Ideas for Teaching an Immigrant

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    Understand Their Concept of Education

    • If you are teaching students from another country, you have likely found that their idea of being educated is different from yours. Many other first-world countries employ a style of education that depends heavily on rote memory. Students are often forced to repeated an answer until they have memorized it. While an American style of education values critical thinking and problem posing, this is not the case for most immigrants. Thus if you dive into an educational setting expecting immediate critical thinking, you will likely be disappointed. Instead of this, slowly implement critical thinking and problem posing. Work with your immigrant students closely trying to develop these skills. (See Reference 2.)

    Develop Examples They Relate To

    • Quality education relies upon examples that make conceptual ideas practical and relevant. This is difficult when your students do not come from the same world that you do. If your student comes from an agrarian culture, instead of employing examples that rely on an understanding of technology and pop culture, utilize examples of the soil and seed. To know the setting in which your students were raised, ask them questions to try to discern where they came from. After learning, employ your understanding of their world in examples.

    Avoid Public Demonstration

    • Most non-Western cultures are honor/shame. This anthropological concept refers to their desire to maintain honor among their peers. Therefore any questions that you ask them publicly can be damaging to their social self-worth if they do not know the answer. While asking children to give answers or to come to the board to do a problem are common practices in American education, education in shame cultures does not do this. So with these students, give one-on-one attention and give the correction in this way. This will not only maintain their self-esteem, but your instruction will be received more effectively. (See Reference 1.)

    Brevity vs. Length

    • Because many immigrants come to the U.S. without developed English skills, giving them assignments that require them to write long papers or read many pages will take them a significant amount of time to complete. Shoot, therefore, for shorter papers and reading assignments where students can focus on the assignment and sharpen their language skills in the process.

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