Given that it is unlikely that any classroom will include the teacher and all students belonging to the same cultural heritage and linguistic background, it is important that every teacher, from the outset of their practice, be aware of the impact differences of language use will create for their learners. "If one individual or group is unable to understand the communication systems in place in the classroom, that individual or group quickly becomes alienated and excluded from the classroom learning experience" (Green and Campbell 2003, 52). There is no doubt that the values and strategies adopted by the teacher will impact on the success or otherwise of the second language student.
It is helpful to make an effort to develop some level of understanding of the features of student's first or 'home' languages, as these "linguistic differences are associated with sociolinguistic and cultural differences" (Dwyer 1989, Reader, 299) and thus it will also ensure that the student feels both his/her first language and culture are valid and valuable, increasing their self esteem and sense of belongingness.
This understanding can also assist the teacher to comprehend the way in which their students are processing new information, putting them in a position to make adjustments to the delivery of this information if necessary: "if they fail to learn, we will question our strategies rather than blame their weaknesses." (Dwyer 1989, Reader, 299).
"Teachers who recognise and value the connection between language, culture and identity can influence how ESL/ESD students are treated in school contexts" (282 Unit Guide, 20). In fact, the strategies that teachers put in place to enhance the learning of students with English as a second language or dialect will stem directly from these values held. Some understandings about the processes of learning a second language or dialect will also...