Accelerated TESOL Diploma

Check out tefl tesol about Accelerated TESOL Diploma and apply today to be certified to teach English abroad.

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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:

H.M. - U.S.A. said:
Cultural sensitivity in the classroom
The Cambridge online dictionary defines culture as ‘the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time’. Cultural sensitivity means being aware that cultural differences and similarities exist and have an effect on values, learning, and behavior. (Stafford, Bowman, Eking, Hanna, & Lopoes-DeFede (1997) Cultural sensitivity in an ESL classroom is best dealt with when students are made aware of each others’ unique culture and heritage and start to understand and be sensitive thereof. It will be essential for the teacher to show a sense of respect of the customs, norms and beliefs of the students to get their participation and make them feel comfortable in the classroom. From my own experiences over the past few years in Saudi Arabia, I can say that any offence or disrespect towards the beliefs and culture of the students will be detrimental to the mutual respect and effective continuation of teaching. In Saudi Arabia, any social interaction is marked by strong gender segregation and respect to age. Men and women seldom interact outside the domestic space of families and confines of a home. This is totally opposite to what we are exposed to in the Western world, but when teaching in this country, these issues are of crucial importance. Moderation relating to dress and general appearance is enforced. Also in lesson planning, great care has to be taken with pictures (no pictures of women are allowed), topics (religion is very sensitive, any referral to pigs, Jews, Israel, love, relationships or marriage are forbidden). This will also limit video and DVD material that will be suitable to show to these students. In Saudi Arabia everybody follows the Muslim religion and prayers are conducted five times per day when everything closes and all Muslim men go to the Mosque to pray. This must also be taken into consideration when teaching in this country to ensure that classes do not clash with these times. Furthermore, it can be very frustrating for teachers in an Arab country if they do not realize that the Middle East has a lax mentality on the necessity for punctuality and that tardiness is not a sign of disrespect and does not warrant an apology unless the tardiness is excessive (more than 90 minutes)! Another notable difference is that Arabs find admitting “I don’t know” as distasteful, so as a teacher you will have to find out for yourself whether they actually do grasp what you are teaching them. In most Western cultures we are taught that we should “look people in the eye” as eye contact is seen as attentiveness and honesty. However in Saudi Arabia, eye contact is seen as disrespectful or rude, and a lack of eye contact does not mean that a person is not paying attention. My experience is that female teachers especially should avoid eye contact with men because it can be seen as a sign of sexual interest and can disrupt classes significantly. To conclude, cultural sensitivity is very important to effectively teach in a non-native classroom. It will improve teaching skills and foster an environment conducive to learning. An EFL teacher should have a basic understanding of the culture differences of the place in which they are teaching and appropriately adjust their approach in the classroom. He or she must look and act dutifully respected and respectful.