Culturally Linguistically Diverse

Takisha Baxter, Joy Black, Kari Brown

Understanding Learners

Hello, educators! The purpose of this newsletter is to introduce material to add to your understandings of culturally and linguistically diverse students in the classroom(s). These students face different challenges and present various unique qualities in the classroom. Please review the information below for additional information and ideas to include these students. Have a great year!


According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association it says the following about culturally/linguistically diverse; “human behavior that includes language, thoughts, and communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions racial, ethnic, religious, or other groups.”( Issues in Ethics: Cultural and Linguistic Competence,2013) So this means teachers are going to have students in their classrooms that come from different backgrounds and these differences may impact their learning because of the characteristics listed above.


Difficulty communicating with teachers and peers poses a huge barrier to learning for linguistically diverse students, and so do teachers who lack appropriate training. Teachers' lack of understanding of students' cultures can lead to incorrect assumptions and generalizations that create barriers to learning, and instructional materials that are only available in English make learning difficult or impossible for students who speak another language. If the student is a recent immigrant or refugee, they may have experienced trauma and/or violence, their family may be dealing with poverty, unemployment, and other socioeconomic disadvantages, and information about their prior educational experiences may be difficult to access. Cultural differences may cause students to feel unaccepted and unsure of how to be successful, they may be embarrassed of a heavy accent or of not speaking English, and they may feel that their physical characteristics (such as skin color) or clothing styles makes them too different than, or inferior to, their peers (IRIS, 2009).


A couple strengths for students that are culturally/linguistically diverse are that they have a chance to teach other students and teacher about new things, be able to teach their families the new things they are learning in school. By doing these things will give the students a higher self-esteem and make them want to try in school rather than shunning them and making them feel bad about themselves for being different. Another strength is that if they have the right learning tools they can advance in learning their new language or customs to excel and sometimes gaining skills needed in class quickly.

Instructional Strategies

According to The National Council of Teachers of English (2015), successful instructional strategies include the students’ cultures in the curriculum and creating an environment of respect and discovery by learning about their cultures and understanding their social norms and customs to better the educational environment. The strategies should also include information about history and different cultures beyond their holidays and the basic information. Information like social customs, interests, and ways of life should be discussed to educate the students about the other cultures and create a classroom on understanding and respect. The educator can also use materials that presents the information in different forms including, pictures, PowerPoints, videos, recordings, songs, and other non-written manipulatives. It is important to teach the main ideas and key concepts necessary to an education in the United States, but the cultural and social norms of the students should still be honored by understanding it and teaching the class about their strengths and weaknesses while learning. An example of successful teaching strategy could be a unit organized around the students. They can present on a different country and the culture within that country while sharing experiences they have had in other cultures or countries to substantiate the presentation.


To learn about other cultures, teacher can attend professional development workshops, interview students or other members of diverse communities, and read cultural biographies and histories. Family and community members of diverse cultures can also be valuable classroom resources (IRIS, 2009), and access to technology and the internet can provide instructional materials in the native language of linguistically diverse students. Teachers will want to work collaboratively with their district's ESL or ELL teachers, and it may be necessary to locate translating services. Internet resources: The National Council of Teachers of English has published a position paper at their website that provides teachers that with a "philosophical and practical base for developing literacy classrooms that meet the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse learners" (NCTE, 2008). At the following web address:, the NCTE defines eight principles to guide classroom instruction, including suggestions and resources for K-12 teachers. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association website provides "policy documents, guides and tips for addressing the needs of CLD students in schools." The Association for Supervision and Curriculum is another great resource, providing a variety of instructional strategies for diverse learners, including specific strategies for linguistically and culturally diverse students.


1.The IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (2009). Cultural and linguistic differences: What teachers should know. Retrieved on Sept. 26, 2015 from 2. Supporting linguistically and culturally diverse learners in English education. (2008). National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved on September 26, 2015 from: 3. Saravia-Shore, M. (2008). Diverse teaching strategies for diverse learners. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved on Sept. 26, 2015 from: 4. Working with culturally and linguistically diverse students in schools. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved on Sept. 26, 2015 from:

Issues in Ethics: Cultural and Linguistic Competence. (2013). American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved from: Savaria-Shore, Marietta. (2015). Ch.2 Diverse Learning Strategies for Diverse Learners. Retrieved from: