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Teaching is a complex process and it requires a lot of efforts. Diversity on the other hand is an undeniable fact that cannot be rejected or excluded from the reality of our world. It brings differences in many occasions when it comes to culture, nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or other ideologies that exist within the society. Combining and putting together all these things is very hard but it is necessary in order to relate in a way the cultural background of the learner with the target language (culture). Sowden warns the teacher “to be aware not only of the cultures of their students and their environment, but also of the cultures that they themselves bring to the classroom” (Sowden, 2007, p.305). As the teacher is the key factor, being aware of all these things brings a huge success to the process of teaching.
Macedonia is a multicultural country and the philosophy of teaching in classrooms that bring together students that at first have their own background and secondly are faced during their process of education with differences, it is required to share their own culture and also get informed for the other cultures as well. Teaching local culture, like other kinds of teaching, is a moral enterprise that requires deep personal engagement, commitment, advocacy, and agency from those who participate fully and genuinely in the enterprise.
When it comes to the challenges and the goals that this kind of education brings, we can say that our program and curriculum should share many goals. The first goal is to recognize children with differences, as well as similarities, among all people. Allowing children to explore varying cultures creates opportunities for them to see that even when people have different customs and traditions, they often share some common features, too.
It should be taught to children that people can be different and unique, yet still have much in common. Such realizations will help young children learn to accept differences and eliminate prejudices and racism. These realizations assist children with accepting and respecting people from all cultures and backgrounds. To bring and teach local culture in English language classes requires a curriculum that encourages cooperative social skills among students. As children learn to accept differences and similarities among people, they can work and get along with others better. They begin to see other’s viewpoints and individuality. It takes time to learn the backgrounds of the students.
As a teacher I consider that I should have a general idea on my students’ beliefs, values, foods, and customs in order to understand better their attitudes and beliefs and to know how to explain certain ideas and issues in a way that they understand. Share those things with the students as I incorporate them into learning experiences. Encouraging students to ask questions that help them understand more about others who have a different background from their own (knowing a little bit more for the culture, for example what holidays do they celebrate? How do they celebrate birthdays? What are their favorite foods and family traditions?) and this also is helpful for them to improve their communicative skills in English and also a good exercise for pronunciation.
It is very important to start teaching local culture from young generations, due to the fact that children model what they see, so the teacher’s inclusion and acceptance of different ideas, customs, and traditions help them learn to accept, respect and most importantly understand more easily. Helping students to compare, contrast, and learn about other cultures without making judgments about them requires an attitude of acceptance and respect. Teachers are the pioneers that should lead this process but students are also as important as them when it comes to the difficulties that rise up and in this case we can say that the will should be two-sided.
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