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Tip Sheet for Tesol Instructors

Tip Sheet for Tesol Instructors

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Published by Sumbul Iqbal

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Published by: Sumbul Iqbal on Mar 15, 2013
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Tip # 1:
 
Be explicit about what you’re doing in the writing classroom and why.
 
By being transparent about forming a classroom culture based on certain values, students withdifferent cultural assumptions about the structure and purpose of a writing classroom will be lesslikely to get overwhelmed or confused. For example, before assigning a personal essay to studentsfrom a collectivist culture, you should explain the (individualist) values behind this particulargenre and acknowledge the potential for difficulty for students with a different set of culturalvalues. Let your students know your expectations about punctuality. Tell them about yourplagiarism policy. However, always explain your guidelines, outlining your own culturalassumptions behind these rules. Never assume students share your understanding of terms (such
as “punctuality” and “plagiarism”).
Tip # 2:
 
Encourage students to reflect often on their own goals for learningEnglish.
 
This includes students’ goals related to their own cultures, particularly the contexts that they
intend to use the language in. Connect your findings from these reflections to the assignments andexercises used in class.
Tip # 3:
 
Explicitly discuss relevant cultural assumptions or attitudes in your written and oral feedback, and be aware of cultural assumptions during theevaluation and assessment process.
 State how important it is for writers to be aware of the context of their written work. Mention the
negotiation that occurs at the intersection of the writer’s and the reader’s backgrounds.
Ask leadingquestions that help them explore their cultural assumptions about various tasks (such as peerreview and critique). During assessment,
evaluate whether the student’s organizational str
uctureeffectively navigated his/her intended context. Consider how the writer felt about the peer reviewprocess and your feedback.
 
 
Tip # 4:
 
Be aware of the variety of ways /methods students attain academicliteracy, and employ strategies for each.
 Some students are embarrassed to identify what they do not understand, so offer multiple ways forthem to ask about aspects of the classroom culture. For example, facilitate communication byallowing students to first conference in groups about classroom procedures and then share theirconclusions with you. Or elicit information through student polls or written responses. You maywant to ask questions such
as, “Do you prefer
to work in a cooperative group or i
ndividually?”
 
Tip # 5:
 
Consider alternatives to “U.S. or U.K. centric” choices when selecting
course readings and audiovisual materials.
 Provide readings that are written in English by culturally diverse authors and not necessarily fromBritain or America. These are important resources that indirectly provide linguistic and cross-cultural explanations and demonstrate how language and culture are interrelated. Locate filmsabout world cultures and/or with cross-cultural themes to show in your classroom.
Tip # 6:
 
Have students design their own course materials.
 Avoid depending heavily on ready-made course materials. Create an open-ended assignment that gets students to work in pairs to describe some aspect of their way of life for the benefit of theirforeign partners. Have the students design web sites or make individual or group presentations oncultural issues of relevance to them. This is most suitable for ESL (or mainstream) courses withhigher-proficiency L2 students.
Tip # 7:
 
Set aside time (before the start of a new semester/quarter) to reflect upon your own cultural values and biases.
 
Our own cultural assumptions can subtly but profoundly affect how inclusive a classroomenvironment feels. The following set of questions can serve as a heuristic:
 
I.
 
 Are classroom norms clear, so that if they are different from what students are used to at home or intheir communities, they are able to understand and negotiate alternative ways of being? 
 II.
 
Have I examined the values embedded in my discipline that may confuse or disturb some students? 
 III.
 
 Are the examples I use to illustrate key points meaningful to and respectful of students? 
 IV.
 
Do I have creative and effective ways to learn about my students’ lives and interests? 
 
V.
 
 Am I aware of nonverbal communication from a multicultural and cross-cultural perspective? 
 

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