Cultural and Linguistic Differences
Shabana P. Siddiqui
ECE 405: Children and Families in a Diverse Society
Linguistic Differences 01
People from all walks of life have gathered in the United States to live their lives. What
follows is a flood of cultural and linguistic differences. The way one person from a particular
culture would say” hi” could be another person’s cultural way of saying “bye”. When children
from different cultures, who have had cultural teachings instilled in them, unite in a classroom
setting, there is some amount of confusion and frustration. Maria a Spanish student in Mr.
Bennett’s class, is experiencing difficulty in her classroom assignments and in expressing herself
in the classroom.
Marias bilingualism is addressed with frustration and hopelessness. Mr. Bennett
expresses frustration about Marias lack of comprehension and that her parents are not
responding to his notes. Mr. Bennett has good interests and wants to help Maria but he isn’t sure
how to go about it. Maria’s unwillingness to respond to Mr. Bennett in the classroom can be due
to cultural differences. It’s possible that students in Mexico do not freely engage in a classroom
discussion with the teacher. The fact that her parents won’t respond to Mr. Bennett’s notes
home, maybe because of a lack of comprehension of the English language on the parents part.
Following are possible reasons for Marias behavior, her tardiness, and her parents’ lack
of involvement in her education: the fact that Maria won’t speak in class could be because she
may be feeling shy or may be children don’t engage in a conversation with the teacher in her
culture. Her tardiness could be the result of mismanagement of time on her parent’s part. It’s
possible that she goes to sleep late, and doesn’t wake up easily in the morning for school, so her
parents let her sleep-in. The parents’ lack of involvement can be due to their lack of
Linguistic Differences 02
understanding of the English language; they may have other worries, or they may work too much
and have little time to deal with Maria’s school and her issues.
“Multicultural education challenges and rejects racism and other forms of discrimination
in schools and society and accepts and affirms the pluralism(ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious,
economic and gender, among others) that students, their communities, and teachers represent”
(York, p. 124 2006). Multicultural education aims to provide equal educational opportunities to
students from diverse backgrounds and cultural groups. Maria’s scenario tells us that the
knowledge of multicultural education on Mr. Bennett’s and the school’s part is crucial if any
success is to be achieved on Maria’s part. The school and Mr. Bennett need to gain knowledge
about Maria’s culture, her families’ values and beliefs and use those to provide guidance and
educate Maria. Mr. Bennett can talk to Maria privately and discuss why she hasn’t been
responding to him during class time and what ways he can incorporate for her to participate.
“Student behaviors such as attention-getting strategies, ways of responding to questions, and
ways of interacting are examples of actions which are influenced by cultural background”
(Ericdigest, 1992). In some races, the female gender is supposed to be shy, to speak in a soft
tone, and to be submissive.
To help Maria succeed, I would do the following: I would get a good understanding of
the level of English that Maria can speak and comprehend. Then working within that level, and
also getting help with a bilingual teacher, I would explain to Maria how schools work in the U.S.
I would also have a bilingual teacher write a note to Maria’s...