Language diversity and inclusion in the classrooms or schools

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Abstract

The term “globalization” has been majorly associated with the economic aspects of life forgetting other aspects such as social and cultural aspects which also experience changes. Search for better life and living conditions has led to further promoted the development of globalization in both economic and socio-cultural aspects. Scholars have argued that language globalization is mostly to impact language use negatively. In addition, Claims have been made that language globalization is mostly to take two sides of the impacts (Bush, 2008). It can either lead to the loss of a language over another which has the higher probability or it can enrich another language in terms of sharing and borrowing vocabularies. However, language diversity is a major threat to the education system. Although English has been the major language of communication especially in the U.S, it is still worrying to see that most of the schools are overcrowded with students with diverse native language (Bush, 2008). Today, U.S education system is experiencing high rate of language diversity which has resulted from the migration and settlement of people into the country. However, the major problem arises in the education system because these students have different and unique individual needs which requires various and attention.

Introduction

Inclusion is an approach which guarantees every student with opportunities and privilege to enjoy their community membership and other privileges such as academic opportunities which ensures they achieve their life goals. It is a situation where all students feel free and welcomed in the learning institutions. Different languages have different words which brings the same meaning. Language diversity is the existence and use of different languages. Educational institutions have recorded high enrollment of students from different countries. Students have different individual needs which require different approaches. Teachers are left with the hard task since they have to ensure that each and every student’s needs are provided and catered for in the learning process. This research will examine the language diversity and inclusion in classrooms and schools. Students come from different ethnic backgrounds with different status. There are those who come from well-established families and can be able to get all their individual needs and there are those who come from humble backgrounds who cannot afford everything they desire. Therefore, all these students require different approach in attempt to provide their learning needs. Education has been considered the most elevating machine from one status to another. Communities which have experienced discrimination and dominance over the other have realized this and are now working towards the achievement of their ambition. Women are most affected in this view, with the highest number of enrollment in colleges and universities being the women. Discrimination has also gotten in the educational institutions in which students are discriminated against gender, race and social status by both teachers and fellow students. An inclusive classroom is where a teacher accepts all the contribution and participation of all students in the class. It also involves including the student’s families and the whole community as whole in the decision making process. It is a situation where all stakeholders’ contributions are accepted in the learning process. Inclusive classroom ensures that every learner’s individual needs are catered for in the learning process. It establishes a clear understanding that the uniqueness of learners comes from the various life aspects such as; different native languages, cultures and different interest in the learners. Therefore, an educator has to identify the individual uniqueness and try to eradicate the barriers which can hinder the achievement of learning objectives.

Research objectives/aims

  1. The aim of this research is to examine the language diversity and inclusion in the classrooms or schools.
  2. The research also aims at enhancing understanding of cultural and language diversity in the learning institutions.

Student from the minority groups have always felt that they are left out of the learning process. They feel that they need to be included in the learning process. This research aims at examining the diversity in language usage in the schools. It is important for an educator to include all the learners in the learning process so as to reduce the complaints such as the one made by minority groups.

Research Questions

  1. What are the educational trends that affect teaching?
  2. What are the impacts of inclusion in classrooms, schools, cultural and linguistic diversity?
  3. What are the instructional approaches that promote the language diversity and inclusion in classrooms and schools?

Education system has faced several challenges and this mostly affects students with special needs and those who are non-English speakers. Therefore, this research will try to examine the language diversity and inclusion in the classrooms or schools through answering the above questions.

 

Literature Review

People have moved from various parts of the world and settled in the U.S with the aim of securing jobs with better pay and attaining better education system (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). Most of them move with their families to start their lives in the U.S. this has led to high enrollment in the schools at every level. Furthermore, in attempt to advance their education levels, some people have enrolled in the U.S higher education institutions such as universities and colleges with the hope of attaining better standards of education. This has further contributed to the language diversity in schools (Morrison et al, 2006). People come from various places; china, India, Africa and even Australia. Despite the fact that most of them can communicate in English, it is still a challenge because it is not their first language. The diversity is increasing as time goes because schools continue to enroll students from various countries and most of them are non-native English speakers (Mathews, 2008). Students come from different backgrounds with different and unique problems and they run to education to find solutions to their problems (Mathews, 2008). Learners have not found that comfort they expect in schools as schools have turned out to be supporting discrimination of people against gender, race, and social-economic backgrounds (Luke et al, 2010). The problem is much worse in a situation where students are suffering from various disabilities. Classroom contains students with unique characters. There are those who are suffering from disabilities, the gifted and talented and slow learners. All these learners must be included in the learning process to ensure that learning objectives are achieved. Every student hopes to attain better if not the best performance. This dream cannot be achieved if an educator is discriminating this learner or his fellow learners are discriminating him (Kalervo, 2006). Teachers are the guardians of learners when they are in school (Kruger, 2007). Therefore, teachers must play their role effectively in ensuring that every student is treated fairly and equally as others despite the race, gender, color or socio-economic status (Fitzerald, 2006). Teachers ensure that learners are relating well with their peers in the schools. This will create cohesion within the students and learners will like the learning. Of the major factor to be considered in the learning process is the learner’s interest and attitude towards learning. Educators must ensure that learner’s interest is considered in the learning process when choosing teaching and instructional approaches and methodologies. Inclusion is one way of achieving the learning objectives in the schools (Ainscow, 2005). Therefore, it is an effective approach to be adopted by every educator to ensure achievement of learning goals. Someone cannot claim to promote learning process and leave behind inclusion a side. It goes together with curriculum and academic objectives (Ainscow, 2005). Educators are advised to change and vary their instructional approaches to ensure that every student both with and without special need is included in the process of learning (Leithwood et al, 1999). Education system is becoming more diverse with most learning institutions continuing to enroll many non-native English speakers.

People have mistaken to differentiate the two major terms; power and leadership. School heads have not been working as they are required by law. A good leader is one who uses his power but without hurting others around him (Fitzgerald, 2006). This has been the opposite case in some of the public learning institutions since several cases have been reported about discrimination, especially against race and color. The African- American students have found it very difficult to stay in schools because it is not welcoming and uncomfortable for them (Fitzgerald, 2006). They receive discrimination from all sides; fellow students and even some teachers also. Teachers and school heads have forgotten their primary responsibility in ensuring that every student in the school enjoys the same rights and privileges as any other student in that class or school (Gunter & Fitzgerald, 2007). But when other students are treated specially and others discriminated, it means someone is missing his/her role. The school heads are the overall leaders and directors in the school (Fullan, 2003). If anything happens to any student while in school they are the ones to be answerable. Power is important part of effective leadership in organizations. Some school heads turn their attention somewhere else and instead of using that power they are given effectively to promote development in the institution, they use it to diminish other students (Clarke & Wildy, 2006). Power is not a title one is given as many have taken it and turned it to something else other than its role. It is skills someone has to exercise his duties effectively and be able to make decisions appropriately which do not only affect the institution but also promotes its development. There are several sources of power which makes leadership effective; first, power comes from the support systems in the institutions (Capper & Young, 2014). Support does not mean that it has to come from the teachers, the non-teaching staffs and students, but it has to come from all the networking system (Mayrowitz, 2008). The institution should establish an effective networking system which will ensure proper communication both in and outside the institution. Effective communication in the school involves teachers in critical decision making process which affects them. It also involves taking into account learners’ opinions when making critical choices which may affect them in the school. Parents are also stakeholders in the learning process and have to be consulted when making decisions which affect their children. This will ensure that proper support system is established in the institution. Another source of power is information; a good leader is judged with what he/she knows. But most importantly when talking of information, we emphasize on how fast one can find information. Schools are important institutions which influence most people (Cope & Kalantzis, 2002). Schools contain many students and all these students have different needs, therefore, school leaders have to be people who can access information faster to enhance decision-making process. Another source of power is credibility; this means that everyone in the institution has to play his/her role effectively as may be required by the law (Maginson & Considine, 2000). Credibility involves one gaining respect from others in the institution and he also gives back that respect to others (Marginson & Considine, 2000). Respect has been a major concern issue in the learning institutions. Teachers expect students to respect them but they forget that they also have a role to play in respecting these students. Respect is a virtue which earns someone trusts from others (Lumby & Morrison, 2010). Teachers have forgotten that they also deserve to respect these learners the same way they deserve respect from learners. Negative reinforcements such as abusing learners is discourage in learning institutions. Even if a learner is not intelligent enough, he/she should not be abused or called by some names which might impact them negatively or affect them psychologically (Luke et al, 2010). Learner’s interest and ability is an important consideration in the learning process (Morrison et al, 2006). Negative reinforcement also involves beating up a student for a mistake. Most teachers have been implementing the negative reinforcements in classrooms rather than positive reinforcement. A learner needs to be shown the right way to follow and not to be beaten up just because it is a punishment. Learners deserve understanding and this has to come from both teachers and school heads (Kruger, 2007). When a teacher discriminates a student, school head should take the responsibility and ensure that that teacher faces the law. Schools have taken teachers to be more important than even students. This has affected communication between teachers and learners in schools (Gunter & Fitzgerald, 2007). For instance, when a teacher does something wrong to a student and when the student reports the matter to the head, the teacher is always taken to be right without knowing that these children also deserve understanding. Students also have the right to be heard just the same as the teachers. It does not mean that teachers are mature and anything they say is correct. There are cases which have been reported about teachers discriminating students (Keamy, 2008). With this era of educational globalization, discrimination cases should not be heard anywhere. Globalization has ensured that people move from one part of the country to settle somewhere else freely. Inclusion has been a major concern in the learning institutions (Foreman, 2011). One of the ways to enhance international and national cohesion is to encourage the use of one common language. However, language diversity is considered to be a threat to this goal of enhancing national and international cohesion (Morrison et al, 2006). Arguments have been raised where some people argue that language diversity and inclusion in the schools and classrooms should not be encouraged as it promotes ethnicity and tribalism (Foreman, 2011). On the other hand, others argue that it is something that should be encouraged in learning institutions because native language is what identifies someone. Someone’s identity rest on his native language and when this is discouraged then it means there will be identity to be used to identify him. In addition, killing native language means killing one’s culture (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). Everyone has a cultural beliefs and values which guides his life. Linguists have also argued that language is what determines culture. There cannot be a culture without a language and vice versa. Although, all these arguments might be right because if we begin with the first argument that common language ensures cohesion it is right. People who speak a common language in most cases they do not engage in conflicts because they understand each other through a common language (Niesche & Keddie, 2011). Globalization has ensured that learners can move from any part of the world to go and study at any other part of the world (Tomlinson, 2000). Globalization has also enhanced economic growth throughout the world. Goods can now move from one part of the country or continent to another part freely. All these have been enhanced by the use of common language. English has been the major language used in communication and most countries use it as a national language (Pieterse, 2005). According to research, the use of one common language has promoted cohesion in learning institutions (Tomlinson, 2000). Therefore, we can say confidently that language diversity to some extent has negative impacts on the establishment of national and international cohesion. When we take the second argument, we can say that as much as maintaining ones’ culture, it is also important to uphold the world’s peace (Tomlinson, 2000). Most of countries have been at war for long time and this has been seen majorly in countries where there are different ethnic groups. Different ethnic groups mean different goals and ideologies. Difference in ideologies is what brings instability amongst people because they have different destinations they want to reach (Tomlinson, 2000). There have been cases of students in colleges and universities involving in ethnic fights because they have different beliefs. Therefore, language diversity and inclusion in schools and classrooms is something that shares both negative and positive impacts (Morrison et al, 2006). But the negative impact overweighs the positive ones. What has been neglected in the process of explaining how the world can achieve the cohesion and peace is that learning institutions enhance culture integration (Rizvi, 1985). Students come from various cultural backgrounds and they share their cultures together. Cohesion can be achieved through sharing and understanding ones’ culture (Tomlinson, 2000). Students are like members of the same family when they are in school despite the backgrounds they come from. Research has shown that there is a need for intercultural education and understanding (Rizvi, 1985). Intercultural education and understanding promotes the world’s cultural differences and also common global humanity. Intercultural understanding creates international business and trade connections and promotes foreign policy interests (Pieterse, 2005). Common language promotes national and international cohesion, but this does not mean that now those with diverse language should not be given a chance to exercise it through speaking. Most of countries such as U.S continue to enroll high number of international students. However, the educational and cultural experiences of these students should be placed in consideration (Niesche & Keddie, 2011). Students who go to other countries to study are eager to learn and they have no idea of what awaits them there. It is not easy to adapt to new culture faster and cope with the environment. It takes time and one requires peaceful place to learn and cope with the new area. Therefore, educators and other students should help these new students to adapt to the new culture. There is no culture which is better than another and no culture should consider their culture more superior than the others (Pieterse, 2005). It doesn’t matter what color one is or race or continent one comes from. Learning institutions should not expect to admit new students and expect them to adapt to the new environment (MacBeath, 2007). They require support from the institution and the community around. Language is a major issue of concern to international students. Therefore, it will be important for learning institutions to help learners with diverse language to develop intensive English language (Bush, 2008). Non- native English speakers find it difficult when they are taught with teachers who are native English speakers. Its either they are too fast when teaching or they cannot understand the technical vocabulary used in teaching. What makes the case more difficult is that even teachers do not put the effort to help these students catch up with their fellow learners who have English as their first language (Capper & Young, 2014). Research has shown that despite all the challenges new students face in new schools, the worse is discrimination and isolation they get from their peers in the school. New students find it difficult to create friendship with the native students. Very few new students are able to interact and create relationship with the native speakers. But few who have managed to create friendship with the natives find themselves advancing in language proficiency (Cope & Kalantzis, 2002). Students who are isolated normally feel neglected and lonely. This makes learning more difficult because they will be feeling homesick rather than studying. Language diversity and inclusion in classrooms gives learners opportunity to share ideas and accept each other’s language and other cultural beliefs and values (Morrison et al, 2006). One of the long term objectives of education is to enhance national and international unity and cohesion. Teachers and school heads have the responsibility to ensure that learners interact with one another. Inclusive education ensures that every learner’s opinion is taken into consideration (Edmunds & Macmillan, 2010). Therefore, in an inclusive classroom all learners both with the special needs and those without should be involved in the learning process (Edmunds & Macmillan, 2010). If teachers cannot set time aside from class time to ensure that those students with special needs are also attended to, teachers should help these children with special need or disability to catch up with their fellows in terms of teaching (Gunter & Fitzgerald, 2007). Learning objectives are set to meet every learner’s learning needs. These include students with special needs, those with disability and the normal students. In a class, students have different learning abilities and it is the duty of the teacher to ensure that at the end of the day every learner achieves the learning objectives as described in the lesson objectives. Students with disabilities require special attention (Luke et al, 2010). Disability is a wide range of challenges which affect learners. For instance, a student may have visual or hearing impairment. Others have slow learning abilities and they perform below the average in classwork. All these are learning challenges which learners face in the process of learning. Teachers have to create that good and peaceful environment for learners to learn (Clarke & Wildy, 2006). Effective communication is important in the learning process. Teacher-student communication is important in classroom learning and in enhancing relationships between the teacher and the learners. Diversity in classrooms depends on the effectiveness of communication channel (Cope & Kalantsiz, 2002). Society is dynamic and teachers should try to change with the changes in the surrounding (Leithwood et al, 1999). Teachers have to be attentive to learners and responsive to their individual needs. Teacher-parent relationship is also important in the learning process because they are important stakeholders in the education system. Parents who have no connection with school or teachers should be encouraged to get involved in the decision-making process of critical issues which affects the school as a whole and their children (Niesche & Keddie, 2011). Parents are members of the society in which the school is built. Therefore, engaging the community means involving parents because they are representatives of the community.

Conclusion     

This research has examined the diversity and its impacts on the learners. Effectiveness of learning depends on the peacefulness of the learning environment. Teachers and parents have major roles to play in establishing effective environment for learners. Teachers have the responsibility of establishing and inculcating positive values in learners. Learning is more effective when all learners are engaged in the learning process. Therefore, it is more important to motivate learners in a diverse classroom. All learners should be involved in the learning process to ensure that no one is left out and feel neglected in learning or participating in class.

 

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