Help Your Newcomers Develop Pride in Their Heritage

Help Your Newcomers Develop Pride in Their Heritage

by Judie Haynes

Do you know how to use the diversity in your classroom to help your newcomers develop pride in their native languages and cultures? Try some of these ideas.

Newomers offer a rich resource from which mainstream teachers and students can learn about other languages and cultures.

Some simple things you can do to develop pride are:

You don't want to discourage the maintenance of home languages. Whatever your students learn in their home-languages will eventually be transferred to English.

Tie Culture to Curriculum

Tie the cultures of your second language learners to your curriculum whenever possible. We know that all children bring to school a wealth of experiences from their families, homes, neighborhoods and communities. Children with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds have stories and experiences that are unique. Teachers should use these experiences and the environment of their classrooms to help children begin to understand other cultures. They should build on the knowledge their students and families have of the countries they come from and the cultures they represent.

The diversity in many classrooms provides a starting point for children to begin to understand and value the many distinct cultures of the world. Teachers should take advantage of this natural resource that is in their classrooms. This helps American children to respect the cultures of other people and, at the same time, it helps children from diverse backgrounds develop pride in their heritage. When students see their home cultures and languages being studied in the classroom, their culture has been validated. This helps to develop positive self- esteem in culturally and linguistically diverse children.

Label Classroom Objects

Label things in your room. Make a separate set of labels of classroom objects for each of the different languages spoken in your classroom. Ask a native speaker of each language to translate the words and write them under the English words on the labels.You may have two or more labels on your door with the word "door" in English and in the different languages of the newcomers in your class.

Although your newcomers may not be literate in their own languages, they will recognize the written form of their language and feel proud that it is displayed in your room. Keep a collection of pictures from different countries. If they are laminated, these pictures can be shared among a number of teachers.

Ask bilingual students and parents to bring in native-language magazines. Have students cut out pictures and hang them in your room to represent the cultures of your newcomers. This helps them develop pride in their heritage and demonstrates respect for their culture.

Related Links

Newcomers in the School Community
In the Spring my district always welcomes newcomers to the United States into our E.S.L. program. Finding activites for these new students is a challenge. Combine your students' natural interest in environmental print with a tour of the neighborhood for this thematic unit.

What Happened on Pa Lia's First Day?
On her first day in a new school Pa Lia felt alone and wanted to make friends. This thematic unit will help students discuss feelings about their first day in a new school and the difficulties of making new friends.

Developing a Multicultural Curriculum
Read about River Edge, N.J. teacher Carolyn Brush and her successful multicultural curriculum. This program combines teaching students about world cultures with the talents of the diverse student population.

Establishing an Atmosphere of Acceptance
Discover how you can alleviate many newcomers' fears by creating an atmosphere of acceptance and welcome in all of your classes.

How Culture Shock Affects Newcomers
Don't underestimate the results of culture shock. The emotional upheaval of moving can be devastating to any child. These symptoms are compounded when the child comes from a different culture and does not speak English.

Pair Your Newcomers with Buddies
Assign a buddy or a cross-grade tutor to your English language learner and watch them both blossom. Buddies gain in self esteem and your ELLs will feel welcome in your class

Activities for Newcomers
When brand new English language learners first enter your school, it can be overwhelming for the teachers responsible for their instruction. It's hard to know what to do first. Here are some activity-based tips to get you started.

Sensitize Your Mainstream Students
You want your newcomers to be accepted on the playground and on the school bus. Sensitize mainstream students to the challenges that new learners of English face.

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