Language and Culture in Schools

These week readings are compelling and thought-provoking. They research and propose different solutions for effective teaching of the foreign students. Gloria Ladson-Billings in “But That Just Good Teaching” considers possible ways of enhancing African American students’ adaptation to the American culture. According to her six-year studies of the academic performance of the colored students, it was revealed that, for example, African American student’s academic performance was often predetermined by the attitude of their teachers. I liked the fact that the main reasons for principals’ recommending particular tutors were based on the high rates of attendance and standardized test scores as well as a low number of discipline referrals. From the article critique outline, tt seems innovative to me that talented parents were encouraged to give some lessons in order to involve more and more students into culturally relevant school activities. In order to create a positive atmosphere in class, teachers strived for equitable and understanding relations with Afro-American students.

Eric Gutstein’s article “And That’s Just How it Starts” represents the results of thorough research conducted at middle-school mathematics classroom in a Chicago public school in a Latino community. In my mind, this socially-oriented experiment was aimed at instilling in a foreign student a self-belief as a significant part of the Universal society. Mathematics was an important tool to develop the awareness of social injustice in students. Therefore, they became familiar with almost every sociopolitical issue pertinent to the civilization they live in via math. Gutstein researched the study of Paulo Freire, who found education and politics an inseparable unity: Freire insisted on the urgent need to create problem posing pedagogy that would be an instrument of the struggle for liberation. I find Freire’s ideas very useful for the development of theoretical study of teaching. I emphasize the importance of such activities as writing essays and giving speeches on urgent sociopolitical topics, as well. The goal of these activities is to spur in students a sense of unity. I think teachers put their heart into mitigating the harsh socio-political and economic realities that students may encounter.

Bresser et al. in the article “Equity for Language Learners” offers different methods to accommodate ELLs to studying math. I accentuate that communication at such lessons makes sense as it helps students to describe different ideas and conceptions. However, many of them may not have enough proficiency in English vocabulary and grammar so they just need applications of additional supportive approaches. Therefore, I find irreplaceable a set of auxiliary exercises used for facilitating the communication at math, for example, educators used sentence frame for dice game prediction. Among other effective strategies of incorporating language into mathematics are, for example, comparison of numbers and figures, hypothesizing, describing the location of ordered pairs, and summarizing effective methods for solving different multiplication issues.

Group Discussion

My name is De Seul, there are Doyoon, Hanal, Bokyung, and Hyejin among the members of my group. We had a discussion of the issues presented in all the above-mentioned scientific articles. Our conversation touched on the methods applied at math for improving understanding of English among ELLs. All of us found Bresser’s article useful and exciting. Hyejin emphasized a significant role of game-like activities during classes: the tasks were accommodated according to the proficiency level of the students. Moreover, Hanal and Doyoon liked the idea of determining the mathematical and language goals for a particular lesson. Bokyung valued the way particular sentence frames were used.

After having such a nice argument about Bresser’s article, we came up to analyzing Gutstein’s exploratory work on teaching math. Hanal turned his attention to the overall goal of the study conducted at Chicago school: Latino community there learnt to express their opinion on controversial socio-political issues with the help of mathematical terminology. Hyejin added that they not only leanrt to speak openly, but mathematics became a powerful tool to withstand social injustices. Dooyon became a proprietor of Paulo Freire’s studies. He defended his opinion referring to Freire’s ideas of “reading the world” and “writing the world”. The aspect liked by Dooyon is that Freire insisted that teachers incited students to mediate upon their lives in the political perspective and then to put their best efforts to withstand the injustice. Bokyung told a few words in support of developing “a problem-posing pedagogy” that would help the Latin American students to nurture a feeling of national pride and unity.

We paid most of our attention to Ladson-Billings’ article “But That’s Just Good Teaching”. Bokyuung insisted on the significant role of the culturally-relevant research conducted among Afro-American students. She pointed out a six-year long thorough research conducted by Ladson-Billings at school. Dooyon drew our attention to the fact of the integral nature of studying and culture. He considered the findings of anthropologists of over fifteen years a valuable source of information. All of us also appreciated the creative approach of certain teachers to the schooling. For example, Hanal said that it would have been a great idea if there were teachers in our school like Patricia Hillard. The last one is African American woman who planted love for poetry using students’ love for rap music. Hyejin and I emphasized the essential role of seminars and engaging talented parents in the class activities. There is still enough room for discussion on the topic


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  • In fact, Language and Culture are equally  important and have to be integrated in the learning process for the better understanding and benefit of students.

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