Culturally Diverse Students

How to help them in the classroom!

Here is a guide from one teacher to another to help you with culturally diverse students in your classroom.

Here are the common characteristics of these in your classroom.

  • They bring a wide diverse background to the classroom. This is based on their background and cultures.

  • Students will bring linguistic differences to the classroom. Many speak another language other than English at home.

  • Students will have different education backgrounds. Some had a lot of schooling and are at grade level, while others may not of had any schooling. Some of this will depends on the value the children's family/caregivers place on education.

  • Students can be double identified, meaning that they are ELL and have a learning disability as well.

  • The Mobility and SES background of these students can cause a challenge in school.

Common Barriers in the classroom.

  • Academic

    • Trust Issues: Some immigrants do not trust either the individuals (teachers, administrators, etc.) or the system itself based on previous experiences or misconceptions (Barriers to engagement..., 2011). This lack of trust can cause the student to struggle academically.

  • Social

    • Culture: Everyone has a unique culture and typically this can be seen as a great asset but not understanding another person’s culture can also create a great barrier.

  • Physical

    • Physical cues such as eye contact, proximity, and appropriate touching can be extremely different across cultures. If not understood these physical factors can be real barriers to learning (All About Working With Culturally..., 2006).

  • Linguistic

    • Language: The most obvious barrier for students that fall into the CLD category is the language, whether it be written or spoken the language can interfere with their comprehension of course material (Barriers to engagement..., 2011).

  • Behavioral

    • If a CLD students is struggling with the language and therefore struggling with class work he or she may become disengaged and or disruptive.

Although these barriers are categorized in this manner each one can have a large effect on the other categories as well because they are all interconnected.

Common strengths of the students

  • Provides opportunities for students to learn from one another and become more understanding of other cultures.

  • When students go to a school with cultural and linguistic diversity, they grow and learn to better function in a multicultural environment.

  • Students will be able to recognize and appreciate the diversity because it teaches that everyone is different and we all have strengths and the differences are a good thing.

  • Having cultural and linguistic diversity in the classroom, helps establish a positive respect for other cultures as well as instill positive attitudes towards one’s own culture.

Resources to help in the classroom.

When dealing with cultural or linguistic having resources to help overcome are important

Instructional Strategies to help you in the classroom

The following UDL guidelines can be used as strategies to help CLD students to succeed in the classroom.

Language Barriers

2.1 Clarify vocabulary and symbols. For example, take the time to teach the vocabulary relevant to your subject.

2.3 Support decoding of text, mathematical notation and symbols. Teaching them strategies to decode complicated texts will help them with comprehension.

Social and Trust barriers

8.3 Foster collaboration and community. This will help them have a safe environment to socialize and hopefully overcome trust issues.

Behavioral Barriers

9.3 Develop self-assessment and reflection. One way to do this is by using a portfolio system where each student can monitor his/her own progress. This would help those behavioral issues because they would have multiple means of keeping them engaged.


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Echevarría, J., Vogt, M., & Short, D. (n.d.). Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP model.

How important is cultural diversity at your school? | GreatKids. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2015, from

Parks, J. (2012, February 6). The Importance of Teaching Multiculturalism & Diversity - Hatch. Retrieved September 27, 2015, from