In her article published in 2000, Arlette Ingram Willis says, “Effective literacy instruction builds upon the cultural and linguistic backgrounds, ways of making meaning, and prior knowledge that all children bring to the classroom.Such instruction also acknowledges the important role of culture in language and literacy learning.Appreciate and accommodate the similarities and differences among the students' cultures.Effective teachers of culturally diverse students acknowledge both individual and cultural differences enthusiastically and identify these differences in a positive manner.
Certain behaviors and instructional strategies enable teachers to build a stronger teaching/learning relationship with their culturally diverse students.
This expansion includes an unpacking of the belief followed by a chart of suggestions and resources for K-12 teachers, teacher educators, and researchers. We recognize the uniqueness of all cultures, languages and communities.
Although not comprehensive—given space and time, we could have easily added more ideas and resources—this document represents what we consider to be a minimum philosophical outline for supporting learners whose cultures and language fall outside the boundaries of mainstream power codes. As teachers and teacher educators, we understand the increasing cultural and linguistic diversity of our society and that we enter our classrooms with our own social identities and cultural biases.
How much do you know about the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of your English learners?
According to one researcher, this knowledge plays a key role in successfully teaching students for whom English is a second language.