Welcome to Language Latte: a conversation about teaching world languages. This is Becky Morales, and I am your host. We are on episode 10- who-hoo! and today we are talking about diversity and the culturally inclusive classroom. How- and why- should world language teachers incorporate the diverse cultures that speak the languages we are teaching? Does social justice play a role in language classrooms? Treat yourself to a latte, and settle in, so we can start our chat!
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Every episode, I examine issues that world language teachers face when trying to help our students achieve proficiency. In this episode we are looking at how teachers can promote a culturally inclusive environment in their classes. It’s not just a celebration of diversity, but also building relationships with our students from all cultural backgrounds- and fusing lessons on social justice into class. Why is this important and necessary? Let’s first look at what the research says about culturally inclusive classrooms and best practices, and then I’ll interview Dr Krishauna Hines-Gaither- a French and Spanish professor who is now the Director of a university Multicultural Education Department. She is going to speak on incorporating diverse voices and social justice in the world language classroom, with specific examples on Afro-Latino and Afro-Francophone culture.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Teacher Education (see below for all links), researchers found that student teachers with more cultural awareness, promoted a more nurturing classroom environment, and more positive learning outcomes for all of their students.
In this 5 year study, with thousands of students from around the country, they found that more cultural awareness equals a more nurturing, positive, and strong learning environment. The study also found that Black and Latino teachers possessed more cultural awareness and were more benevolent and sensitive towards cultural differences by drawing on their own identities and experiences as racial minorities. Teachers who had previously worked with students of color had especially high levels of multicultural awareness.
This is an extraordinarily complex topic, and in the short time I have here, we won’t be able to unpack all of the whys and hows- but I hope that this conversation can be an introduction, and can give you something to think about when you are curriculum planning, and in the choices you make when you’re teaching. I hope to continue the conversation in our Language Latte facebook group, and also in next season’s Language Latte podcast.
There are two parts parts to the culturally inclusive classroom, that show our students that their experiences, and their voices matter. First, we have to look at who we are serving, and second, we have to look at what materials we are using.
So let’s break it up. First, who are we serving? What are our students’ backgrounds? Do we understand their cultural backgrounds? Are we aware of the broader social, economic, and political context from which they are coming? Have we acknowledged our own cultural lens and biases? Are we committed to building caring classroom communities?
Reflecting on these questions is paramount. Our class should be a safe place of mutual respect between the teachers and the students- free of prejudice, harassment, racism. We cannot neglect the needs of individual students or groups of students. A dear friend told me that her biggest pet peeve was- as one of the only black students in her school- the expectation in class that she would speak as the representative of all African-Americans. We should utilize diverse experiences and perspectives as resources, not in overgeneralizing behavior or opinions.
If the first part of the culturally inclusive classroom is the climate, and the students, and our relationship with them, the second part of culturally inclusive classrooms is the content: the meat and potatoes of our lessons. Even if our class is homogenous, when we are teaching world languages, it is a disservice to our students if we only talk about black history during February, or if our only cultural lesson is bringing in food for 5 de mayo. The rich cultures of the languages of our classes should be woven throughout our lessons, and span beyond Eurocentric cultures to include indigenous cultures or lessons from the African diaspora, which are often neglected.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to reach all of our students, and help all of our diverse student body to find relevant connections with the subject matter and the tasks in class. Culturally responsive teaching is just that: building the learning capacity of every student. I believe especially in a language classroom, we are preparing students to be gifted, global citizens, more capable of being successful in this interconnected world. As we are preparing our students to cross borders and build bridges, we look to culturally responsive teaching, and our lessons should challenge mainstream ethnocentrism and hegemony.
There are a couple of terms that will be mentioned in the interview today that overlap, but are not exact synonyms. You have probably heard of multicultural education: the celebration of diversity that encourages harmony, tolerance, and a positive school climate. The National Association for Multicultural Education is an international organization that is committed to issues of equity, inclusion, diversity, and justice in schooling. I am including a link in the show notes to their thorough definition of multicultural education. Mentioned within their document is the idea that students will develop a positive self-concept and pride as we provide knowledge about the histories, cultures, and contributions of diverse groups. A multicultural curriculum includes our students’ experiences, and it should be led by culturally competent teachers, who encourage an interest in social justice, such as building a lens for the students so they can see where injustice exists.
When all of our students feel welcomed and appreciated in class, and when we highlight the rich cultures of the languages we teach, we graduate students who are more confident and prepared and compassionate and ready to succeed in our global community.
Interview with Dr Hines Gaither
I am so happy to introduce our guest today. Dr. Krishauna Hines-Gaither has taught Spanish since 1999. Currently, she is the Director of the Multicultural Education Department at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. She is the Past President of the Foreign Language Association of NC, and has chaired committees with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. She received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Educational Studies and Cultural Foundations with a concentration in Cultural Studies. Dr. Hines-Gaither’s dissertation is titled Negotiations of Race, Class, and Gender among Afro-Latina Women Immigrants. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Salem College and a Master’s degree in Spanish Education from Wake Forest University. Dr. Hines-Gaither is a graduate of the Middlebury College French Language School, as well. She specializes in Diversity and Inclusion and Afro-Latino and Francophone Culture. Dr. Hines-Gaither is a frequent trainer and public speaker- and I am going to include all of her contact information in the show notes if you’d like her to come to your school.
1) Tell me about yourself (your background or teaching experience, what you’re doing now)
2) Today we are talking about inclusive classrooms. What does that mean for world language teachers?
3) What training or strategies are necessary for teachers to prepare them to to teach diverse populations?
4) Dr. Hines-Gaither how important is it for world language teachers to introduce the diverse cultures who speak the languages we are teaching, such as including Afro-Latinx and Afro-francophone cultures? Do you have any good examples for teachers?
Afro Colombia: “Somos Pacifico” by Chocquibtown
Afro-Colombians: “Las Caras de mi Gente.” Afro Colombians identify with various terms indicating their African heritage.
Afro Peruvian: “Ghetto Rap.” Monica Carrillo is an Afro-Peruvian activist. She appears in Henry Louis Gates’ documentary titled Black in Latin America.
Afro-Mexico: “Somos Negros.” Documentary on Afro-Mexicans’ experiences in the Costa Chica, Guerrero region of Mexico.
Afro-Cuba: “La Gorda.” Las Krudas perform a song in protest of thinness and dominant standards of beauty.
Afro-Cuba: “No Me Dejaron.” Las Krudas perform a song in protest of immigration restrictions.
Afro-Latina Women: Rotundamente Negra
Afro-Ecuador: Racism in Ecuador
Afro-Cuban Film (2013): They are We (Trailer).
5) What role does social justice take in the world language classroom?
6) Let’s talk about the positives. Tell me about what you have done in your program that has worked, and what the results have looked like.
7) Where can our listeners find you, if they want to learn more?
Her fantastic web site: www.weboaal.com.
Click her to download a HUGE List of Selected Resources on Afro-Latino Cultural Heritage from Dr Hines-Gaither.
Thank you so much for your generosity and time Dr Hines-Gaither!
Interested in Learning More about Racial Literacy, Culturally Responsive Education, and Diversity?
Research on Culturally Responsive Education
Banks, J. A. (1993). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. Review of Research in Education, 19, 3-49.
Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian. Davis, Laura A. (2017). Multicultural Matters: An Investigation of Key Assumptions of Multicultural Education Reform in Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education.
Davis, J. E., Jordan, W. J. (1994). The effects of school context, structure, and experiences on African American males in middle and high school. The Journal of Negro Education, 63(4), 570-587.
Gay, G., Howard, T. C. (2000). Multicultural teacher education for the 21st century. The Teacher Educator, 36(1), 1-16.
Hammond, Zaretta L. (2014). Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Corwin.
Kubota, Ryuko. Austin, Theresa. Saito‐Abbott, Yoshiko (2008). Diversity and Inclusion of Sociopolitical Issues in Foreign Language Classrooms: An Exploratory Survey. Foreign Language Annals. V 36, issue 1, pg 12-24.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory Into Practice, 34(3), 159-165.S. Weinstein, Carol & Tomlinson, Saundra & Curran, Mary. (2004). Toward a Conception of Culturally Responsive Classroom Management. Journal of Teacher Education. 55. 25–39.