Looking at Cultural and Linguistic MismatchesFirst, let’s be clear what we are talking about when we refer to culture. We like the following definition:[C]ulture is more than just one characteristic, such as race or ethnicity; culture reflects the unique blending of characteristics among individuals within groups and may include variables such as socioeconomic status, life experiences, gender, language, education, sexual orientation, psychological state, and political viewpoints.
This definition makes it clear that we are all a blending of a variety of cultural influences and indicates the complexity of “getting it right” culturally for each child. Informing yourself aboutanti-bias educationand incorporating those understandings into your everyday interactions with children will pay off in a smoother functioning classroom Cultural AwarenessSo how do you prevent these mismatches from occurring? An important first step to understanding how culture might influence your students’ behaviors is to learn about the communication practices of their cultural groupsListening to FamiliesUnderstanding family priorities is essential to understanding children’s behavior Children learn interaction patterns and standards of behavior in the context of families. In some families, collectivism is the norm. Children are taught to help one another for the good of the group, even if this means taking on extra tasks. They are also taught to depend on one another when they need assistance. In other families, individualism is the norm. Children are encouraged to be unique and do their own things.Strategies to Prevent Problem BehaviorThe more quickly we begin to resolve the communications barriers, the more successful we will be at preventing some of the associated behavior problems. Some basic information about language development may prove helpful in this process.We all learn through nonverbal communication. Infants learn language from listening and watching parents while they label items and talk about how they are used. When adults are teaching their children to talk, they use what is called parentese—drawn-out speech that places emphasis on nouns and action words. You’ve probably seen parents do this. They may pick up a teddy bear and, speaking slowly and with careful enunciation, say to the child, “Do you want your teddy bear?” They are helping children make connections between the object and the word. From these interactions, children come to understand the names of many objects and actions long before they can speak.