Topic: CultureCultural Diversity

Last updated: November 28, 2019

Educational Psychology 388Including a learner with Diverse Learning Needs: Topic 1This essay addresses the Diverse Learning Needs of learners who present a language difficulty due to learning in a language different to his/her mother tongue in the classroom.07543800’Azraa Conrad
00’Azraa Conrad
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u Diversity in Education PAGEREF _Toc517436835 h 2Multicultural Education PAGEREF _Toc517436836 h 2Language difficulty PAGEREF _Toc517436837 h 3Are bilingual classrooms important and necessary? PAGEREF _Toc517436838 h 4In the classroom PAGEREF _Toc517436839 h 5How should learners with language difficulties be supported at school? PAGEREF _Toc517436840 h 6Education Department PAGEREF _Toc517436841 h 6Collaboration PAGEREF _Toc517436842 h 8How to promote inclusion in the classroom PAGEREF _Toc517436843 h 8Figures PAGEREF _Toc517436844 h 9References PAGEREF _Toc517436845 h 10

Language difficulty due to learning in a language different to his/her mother tongue
Diversity in EducationTo promote diversity is a goal shared by many, but the reality of experiencing this goal in the everyday classroom is a challenge. In my opinion, one of the main purposes of being a teacher is to focus on the main challenges and problems in encouraging diversity, and showing and improving ways to include an understanding of diversity within the classroom and in the community- especially in South Africa. Depending on the context, the term “diversity” can have different meanings. By having a diverse group of students means to be aware of the fact that all people are different and unique in their own way (“Diversity”, 2018). When realizing the importance of embracing and making positive use of diversity, one should always take differences such as the level of reading ability, cultural background, religious opinions, sporting ability, racial background and character into account. Teachers especially should value diversity as it is important to ensure that this attitude is modelled into students. When diversity is appreciated, people become aware of and respect the fact that everyone is different and that these differences are generally a good thing (“Diversity”, 2018).For example, when a student is being faced with an issue, or if a teacher is conducting a group activity within the classroom, it is more enriching to have diverse groups which have many different approaches and skills on how to handle situations, than it is to have a group where all of their strengths are more or less the same.
Multicultural EducationMulticultural education refers to teaching and learning specifically created for the many different cultures and races in a system of education (Wilson, 1997). This is being based upon respecting and improving the diversity of cultures within racial societies. Multicultural education recognizes and integrates positive racial individualities into the classroom. There are five dimensions of multicultural education which can be found in figure 1 (Banks, J.A et al.).

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For multicultural education to be experienced within the classroom, the following characteristics must be taken into account to ensure that its purpose for students, teachers, guardians, and administrators of the school system is achieved (Bennet, 1995):
A positive interracial learning environment;
A curriculum that is multicultural;
Positive teacher beliefs;
Administrative support; and
Workshops that help train teachers.
It is important that all of these characteristics are sought after, to make sure that there is no increase of hostile response behaviours.

The positive effects of a multicultural education can be seen by reduced segregation among the PTA (Parent Teacher Association), a decrease of racial tension within the school, and the inclusion of a multicultural curriculum (Wilson, 1997). Wilson (1997) suggests that one should take the multicultural curriculum into consideration for a number of reasons, because it is able to give various viewpoints relative to what is already being taught in most educational systems. The ethnic minorities gain a feeling of inclusion, whilst decreasing racial stereotypes, prejudice, bias, and racism in South Africa (Wilson, 1997). Institutions have followed certain attitudes, values, and beliefs for too long, and “value systems of one race and class of people” (Hilliard & Pine, 1990). A positive change for all is being demanded by the future education system (Hilliard & Pine, 1990).
Language difficulty
Language is a “system of symbols that we use to communicate feelings, thoughts, desires, and actions” (Friend & Bursuck, 2010).
There are two main parts of language which some students have difficulties with: receptive and expressive language. Receptive language is acquiring the understanding of what someone means when they speak to you. Expressive language is having other people understand you when you speak. Issues for receptive language happen when students don’t understand what their teachers and classmates are saying. For example, some students may find difficulty in following directions, understanding questions, or remembering verbal information that has been explained. Students that experience expressive language difficulties find difficulty in clear communication, and their verbal language includes grammar errors, very little vocabulary, and they often hesitate (Friend ; Bursuck, 2010).
Difficulties in language can also take its toll on a students’ social life within school. For example, they may find it hard to “adjust” their conversation to be on the same level as the person they are speaking to, or find it difficult to relate to the context in which the conversation is taking place. Students with language difficulties struggle with taking turns when speaking, and don’t recognise when the person listening is not fully understanding what is being said (Friend ; Bursuck, 2010).
“Language stands at the centre of the many interdependent cognitive, affective, and social factors that shape learning.”(Corson, 1999)
Because language is very important in academics, it is not surprising that students with language difficulties struggle with academics. Issues with sounds result in learners’ having difficulties obtaining word analysis and spelling skills. Receptive language problems can make comprehension very difficult and can result in trouble understanding mathematical terms (plus, minus, grouping, dividing). During my two week school observation at the beginning of the year, I encountered two different approaches to mathematics in the classroom. One learner, named Abby* (pseudonym used to keep student anonymous), a student capable to speak English fluently, solves word problems speaking to herself. For example: “First I need to read the whole problem. Then I need to see what the problem is asking for and what I need to do. I either need to plus or minus or share. I need to share the sweets. There are 12 sweets and only 3 friends. Let me draw it out.” A student with a language barrier (isiXhosa learner in an English school), was not be able to talk to herself through the problem.
According to, “terms for learners such as English as a second language (ESL), English as an additional language (EAL), second language learning (SLL) and English speakers of other languages (ESOL) carry with them differing meanings depending on cultural context.” The term mother tongue is used in various ways. It may mean the language learned first; the language identified with as a “native” speaker; the language known best; or the language used most.
Are bilingual classrooms important and necessary?
Some educators and policy makers argue that it is not the place of the government to promote the maintenance of other languages and cultures. This argument seems narrow minded because it is difficult to even define what the “South African” culture is, since the majority of the people living here today originated from countries outside of the South Africa. If one of the South African government’s goals is to ensure equality for all races, it is important that they re-evaluate the means by which this goal can be achieved. By discouraging the use of a native language in a classroom, they are holding a student back from formal development in that language and possibly his/her academic achievement. Policies in education discourage students from keeping their mother tongues. If students keep their culture and language, then they are viewed as “less capable of identifying with the mainstream culture” and learning the mainstream language of the society (Cummins, 2001). Sometimes people get caught up in the facts and figures of how children learn best. But to study the sociological and psychological affects that bilingual education programs can create, provide evidence which recommends the need to develop the way school systems meet the needs of students with language difficulties. While students may not be physically punished for speaking their mother tongue in the school, a strong message is communicated to them that if they want to be accepted by the teacher and the society, they have to abandon any connection to their home language and culture (Bennet, 1995).
In support of a bilingual education system, it is important for students to use their mother tongue in the classroom. For one, research suggests that growth of the first language appears to provide the underlying foundation for development of a second language. Also, insisting that students learn English first (instead of formal instruction in their mother tongue) can delay their academic development since a large amount of time is needed to acquire a second language. Finally, confirmation and acceptance of individual students’ language and cultural heritage encourages academic achievement and improvement of a positive self-concept. What makes more sense to me is to integrate a child’s mother tongue into their formal instruction of language because it would be the language in which they would best associate concepts, experiences and vocabulary. Bilingual students who are not receiving mother tongue instruction might find it more difficult to learn English than those students who are instructed in their mother tongue.
Children’s verbal and educational development is some of the positive effects that bilingualism has had. Children gain a deeper understanding of language and the effectiveness of it, when their development in two or more languages grows during primary school (Cummins, 2001). When students become literate in two languages, they are able to process them better and are able to compare how the two languages organise reality (Cummins, 2001). Bilingual children are able to process two languages, which makes their thinking ability more flexible.
In the classroomIt is important that seating arrangements allow easy access to all learners in the classroom, away from distractions such as doors and windows and close to the teacher. Sitting alongside others who listen and take part provides positive peer pressure and role models. Using specific children’s names encourages attention and contribution. Children with language difficulties often lack attention and listening skills, it is important to double-check their understanding of important class instructions. Information may need to be short, basic or reworded. Directions should be simplified into steps and whether they understand key words or phrases should be looked over. When new class topics are introduced, children with language difficulties may need help with important vocabulary, both verbally and in written form. Teachers should try to use pictures and real resources to explain new words and ideas when necessary. New vocabulary and concepts should be rechecked often and shared with parents for strengthening at home (Mampe, 2016). Understanding and remembering what is read can be problematic for children with language difficulties, even when they are skilled at de-coding text. They should be encouraged to look back over text to support their comprehension and should be taught to identify and underline key-words. Encouraging children to put into their own words, what has been said, taught or read develops their understanding and auditory memory. It can also extend their utterances. Children with language difficulties have problems with time concepts and sequences. Today, yesterday, tomorrow, days of the week, months and seasons may be difficult to grasp and recall (Mampe, 2016). Sequencing activities will be especially useful to them. They may have difficulty remembering the days and times of particular lessons/activities and will consequently often appear unprepared or confused. They should be encouraged to use class timetables and personal checklists to improve their planning and organisation skills. Children should always ask for help, even if they are not sure how to ask their questions. They should be encouraged to raise their hand to let the teacher know if they are struggling (Mampe, 2016).

How should learners with language difficulties be supported at school?When discussing diversity, the focal points should of demotion should be: race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, as there forms of difference are very important. When students enter the classroom, the teacher needs to be aware that they all come from different backgrounds, have different experiences, and cultural contexts (“Diversity”, 2018). How students and teachers view the importance of a classroom and what should happen there is solely based on the issues of diversity. For example, the “norms” of what a typical student should know, the resources they have and their prior knowledge are extremely important. Children can feel left out or inadequate when they recognize that they do not “belong” in the classroom. Some teachers assume the abilities of students or their performance. However, teachers can also feel out of place based on their own traits (class, privilege, etc.) (Mampe, 2016). Both students and teachers will see the classroom as an inclusive environment once they have identified and thought through views of difference and how they affect the classroom.
In order to promote an inclusive classroom environment, the teacher needs to support every student. It is important to move onto including specific tips for addressing differences and how they play out (Mampe, 2016). One way to form strategies for encouraging an inclusive classroom is to use self-reflection and think of potential classroom scenarios and how one might react to them. The solutions to such scenarios are ones that each teacher should consider for him- or herself, since there are no right or wrong answers (“Diversity”, 2018). Redundancy is also a great way to support learners. Redundancy means that teachers should emphasise the concepts which are the most important during the lesson. When reading during an English lesson or story time, the “most important words in the text must be underlined for future use and thereafter learners work in groups to identify other words” (Bornman ; Ross, 2010). As an activity, the teacher could give examples of the words used and then learners work in groups to find other words used (Bornman ; Ross, 2010). Redundancy means adjusting and using resources that are readily available in the classroom, such as painting and cutting words, or finding the right word to describe something. A learner learning to read gets support when they are reading something they enjoy and can respond to easily.
It is easier for the teacher to cope with the issue at hand when the entire school is aware of the difficulty that the learner is facing. The following influences can help primary schools cope with a large number of learners with language barriers to learning who find it difficult to learn (Yule, 2012 and Winkler et al., 2004): there has to be a constant communication between the principal, teachers and parents about the learners who struggle. The school must be prepared to spend money on resources that aid differentiated lessons. It is important for the school to organise in-service training for teachers on how to deal with learning difficulties. Assisting learners is seen to be an important part of school life. All schools have a record keeping system for each learner of all information (Mampe, 2016).
Education DepartmentBefore 1994, the Education Department of South Africa had racially divided departments. Not all education departments made provision for learners with language barriers to learning and the struggling communities were completely left out. There were extreme differences and inconsistencies in the provision for specialised education for different race groups and nearly no provision for black disabled children even at pre-school level (NCSNET ; NCESS, 1997). The way apartheid was established in every aspect of South African life had an impact on the area of special needs and support in education.”The setting up of homelands system, the declaration of the Bantu Education Act (1964), the Indian Education Act (1965) and the Coloured Persons Education Act (1963) all impacted on racial differences and contributed to the massive shortages in educational provision which were highlighted in the National Education policy (NCSNET/NCESS, 1997).”(Mampe, 2016)

CollaborationHelping learners overcome language barriers to learning in South Africa was inspired by projects like “Sisonke” which means “we are together”. “Sisonke” wanted to provide information on learning support strategies for all learners.
According to Mampe (2016), “The Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) strategies improve such support for all learners. Many South African foundation phase and intermediate phase teachers bear witness to participating in different programmes of the SIAS projects” (SIAS, 2008). The purpose of these projects was to improve the teaching practice of teachers and help learners to overcome barriers to learning in classroom situations. These projects also created ideas such as “All children can learn” and “Believe that all can achieve.” According to Winkler, Modise ; Dawber (2004), language barriers to learning could be the “result of emotional, awareness, language, spelling and reading problems as well as mathematical calculations (numeracy), concentration span and poor educational experiences.”The South African policy on inclusive education makes it clear that learners should be supported in schools in which they are placed. The Education White Paper 6 (2001) presents a change away from labelling learners according to their learning problems. Schools should rather look out for barriers to learning and create an environment in which all children can learn and achieve (Mampe,2016).
How to promote inclusion in the classroomThe classroom is the main area where teaching and learning takes place in a school. Teachers must consider the mental environment or classroom climate that they create. If possible, they want a classroom in which learners make their own learning a high priority and feel free to take risks and make mistakes. To create such a classroom climate it is important that there is unrestrained acceptance of respect for and caring about learners as human beings. Teachers should create a non-threatening atmosphere and be transparent with regards to school subject matter that is important to the learner. Another idea is to allow learners to choose their activities, which gives them a sense of control and creates a feeling of community. When learners feel like they belong, they are able to achieve high levels of insight in the classroom. They are able to share goals, and be respectful and supportive of each other and their efforts (Donald et al., 2007).

Teachers must be in inspiration to learners, and allow them to gain their self-confidence by not over-working them, and allowing them to be proud of what they have achieved. Whether they make mistakes or not, it is important that they focus on their achievements, being fluent rather than accurate, and should always give 100% in everything they do. Learners should be able to give clear input in all activities, and be allowed to voice their opinions where necessary (Nel ; Theron, 2008).

The future hopes to bring changes in the way disabled people are still able to be, learners will integrate in their communities instead of having the line of segregation that has been engraved into them. Learners will no longer feel locked up, they will be barrier-free, and all learners will feel safe in the inclusive environment that every classroom brings. No learner will feel excluded, and all will be valued.

FiguresFigure 1:
-32385048387000(Banks, J.A. et al.)

Banks, J. (2015). Cultural Diversity and Education (6th ed.). New York: Taylor and Francis.

Banks, J.A, Cookson, P., Gay, G., Hawley, W.D., Irvine, J.J., Nieto, S., Schofield, J.W., ; Stephan, W.G. (2001). Diversity within unity: Essential principles for teaching and learning in a multicultural society. Seattle: Centre for Multicultural Education, University of Washington.
Bennett, C. (1995). Comprehensive multicultural education: Theory and practice (3rd ed.). Massachusetts: Allen ; Bacon.

Bornman, J. ; Ross, J. 2010.Believe that all can learn:Increasing classroom participation in learners with special support needs. Pretoria: van Schaik.

Corson, D. 1999. Language Policy in Schools: A Resource for Teachers and Administrators. Mahwah, New Jersey. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Cummins, J. (2001). Bilingual children’s mother tongue: Why is it important for education, J Cummins, J Cummins, J Cummins, J Cummins, J Cummins, J Cummins, J Cummins. Retrieved from
Department of Education. 1997. The National Commission on Special Needs in Education and Training (NCSNET) and the National Committee for Education Support Services (NCESS). Pretoria: Government printers.

Department of Education. 2001. Education White Paper 6. Special Needs Education:Building an Inclusive Education and Training System. Pretoria: Government printers.

Department of Education. 2007. The National Policy on Assessment and Qualifications. Pretoria: Government Printers
Diversity in the Classroom | Center for Teaching and Learning. (2018). Retrieved from (2018). Retrieved from, D., Lazarus, S. & Lolwana, P. 2007. Educational Psychology in Social Context (3rd Ed). Cape Town: Oxford.

Friend, M., & Bursuck, W. (2010). Understanding Language Problems | Retrieved from
Hilliard, A. & Pine, G. (1990, April). Rx for Racism: Imperatives for American’s schools. Phi Delta Kappan, (593 – 600).

Nel, M.; Theron, L. 2008.Critique of a language enrichment programme for Grade 4 English Second Language learners with limited English proficiency: A pilot study. South African Journal of Education.Vol 28 (2). 2008. pp. 203-219.

Sayed, Y., ; Ahmed, R. (2011). Education quality in post?apartheid South African policy: balancing equity, diversity, rights and participation. Comparative Education, 47(1), 103-118. doi: 10.1080/03050068.2011.541680
Wilson, K. (1997). Multicultural Education. Retrieved from, G., Modise., M. ; Dawber, A. 2004. All children can Learn: A handbook on teaching children with learning difficulties. Cape Town: Francolin


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