Cultural Competence is Key for Cultural Self-Awareness

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Presently, teachers are faced with the privilege and challenge serving classrooms that are incredibly diverse. There are many variations when it comes to diversity, but one of the most obvious ways that student differ is through their cultural backgrounds. Culture accounts a lot for individual characteristics and tendencies, including learning styles. Teachers as well as school leadership interested to properly serve the students must consider multicultural learning styles. Understanding how to handle the multicultural gaps is essential in the establishment of more effective syllabuses which can serve the needs of all the students and assist in closing the achievement gap.

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The Bosnian culture is high context which means that language, specifically spoken language tends to be indirect and convoluted with individuals typically meaning more or less than what they actually say. In high context cultures, communication revolves around non-verbal elements for instance gestures, voice tone, eye movement and facial expression. Space further tends to be communal with individuals tending to stand close to each other and share the same space. On the other hand, the American culture which is low context often emphasizes precision and clarity. In the American English, there exists a lot of politeness and civility whereas in Bosnian, one has to get used to verbal sharpness, sometimes rudeness, in everyday exchanges, at times in instances where individuals do not necessarily want to be rude. The conditions in immigrant camps are often deplorable. There is usually limited space for the families and scarce basic amenities and resources such as clean water and proper toilets among others. A study of 48 Bosnian refugee children resettled in Sweden established that over half of them had one or more mental health issues which demanded further attention. These students may be having post-traumatic stress reactions.

There are several interventions and exercises that could help the students from high context cultures. While teaching, the teachers could try incorporating more non-verbal cues during the course of instruction to help the students make sense of what they are being taught. It would be vital for the school leadership and teachers establish how student’s patterns of communication and different dialect impact their classroom learning and how second-language learning influences how they acquire

literacy. It will be crucial to sensitively apply multi-cultural materials and books to recognize the students’ culture and boost cross-cultural understanding. The books should not be selected solely based of the differences between cultures but should also factor in their similarities. Another important measure would be to comprehensively explain test-taking procedures to all new students. It is possible that the multiple-choice questions are guessing games, or they may not understand how to tackle the true-false or matching tests. Teachers will need to explain how to take these various tests and what the aim of each kind of test.

Cultural diversity among students has a direct impact on their performance. Research show that students work better in an environment that is culturally diverse as it enables them to concentrate and exert themselves more when there are individuals of other backgrounds who are learning in their environment. This spurs creativity as those with varied perspectives are able to collaborate to come up with solutions. Promoting diversity in staffing further allows students from various background to identify with teachers, effectively boosting their trust in the learning environment. A second opportunity is learning about the knowledge and culture of others. Students, members of staff and the wider community will interact with the Bosnian immigrant children and their families and get the opportunity to exchange cultural knowledge. Curious individuals would like to find out more about things such as beliefs, language and religion, and consequently gain new insights that might have been difficult or impossible to acquire from elsewhere; in addition to forming new friendships.

The promotion of diversity and equality in education is important for both students and teachers. Matters of diversity are vital in determining how teachers and students perceive the significance of the classroom and what should take place in this space. For instance, assumptions regarding what the typical student should know, the resources they possess and their previous knowledge are matters which are key. Further, students may think that they do not belong in the classroom context – a feeling which can result to reduced participation, feelings of inadequacy, along with other distractions.

Cultural competence is an ongoing process with the aim of realizing the ability to work effectively with culturally varied parties and communities with comprehensive awareness, refined skills, specific knowledge as well as personal and professional respect for cultural attributes. Among the important skills today’s students need are being able to think fast, critically, as well as collaborate with individuals from different cultures in various parts of the world. Cultural competence enables the diversification of perspectives which is important for innovation. Cultural competence is also key for cultural self-awareness so that individuals can know how culture as a factor affects how they react in some situations and how they can learn to identify their biases.

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