Subtle but significant differences
Learning a new language is only one of the challenges facing newcomers. Learning a new
culture is equally daunting and takes just as long. The links here provide ample background
information about cultures represented in Newfoundland schools which can help teachers better
understand their ELLs.
This website from Citizenship and Immigration Canada provides cultural briefs on most of
the home countries from which Canada receives newcomers. The information is
extensive and fascinating.
Holy Days and Holidays Calendar
This calendar, posted on the Peel District website, gives a very complete list of significant
dates for different cultural and religious groups in 2010.
Culture Shock and Differences
The Adjustment Challenges Facing ESL Students section of this document ESL Learners:
A Guide for the Classroom, prepared by the BC Ministry of Education, describes how
learners can experience the stages of culture shock. The section Cultural Differences in
Student Behaviour lists classroom behaviours that may be culturally influenced.
ELLs: A Support Document for Educators
The Socio-cultural Awareness section on pages 7 and 8 in this document, prepared in
Newfoundland by the provincial Department of Education, lists thirteen sensitive areas in
which cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings in Newfoundland schools.
How Cultural Differences May Affect Student Performance
This one-page article gives a brief overview of some of the more obvious ways that culture
can affect classroom communication. It’s written from an American perspective, but the
issues are the same.
Understanding Your International Students
This link is to a publishers website for a book that contains cultural profiles of 16
countries. Five sample chapters are available online through this link. The book provides
very useful information about the more subtle aspects of culture that can result in
communication difficulties (often overlooked in cultural profiles). It’s a good resource for
schools with larger numbers of ELLs.
Look at Me When I Talk To You
This excellent book explains some of the fundamentals of cross-cultural communication
and the difficulties culture can cause in the classroom. It is available for ordering.
The three links below are to short four– or five-page articles on specific groups, written
from an American perspective:
Education in Bosnia
Education in Southeast Asian Communities
Education of Refugees
This website links to extensive cultural profiles on many refugee groups including the
Burmese, Iraqis, Sudanese, Bosnians, Liberians and Afghans. The Cultural Orientation
Resource Center, which published them, is based in the United States.
© 2010 Eastern School District
Information and content by Martha Trahey