Author: Reham Abdalslam Hasan | Published on 1 February 2024
Question: How can we promote intercultural understanding in your lesson?
Answer: By making small changes to our current teaching practice.
Ways in which you can promote intercultural understanding include:
Create a safe and inclusive environment
Foster an atmosphere where all students feel valued, respected, and comfortable expressing their opinions and sharing their cultural backgrounds. Encourage open dialogue and create opportunities for students to learn from each other's experiences. Ask follow up questions whenever a student shares in order to show interest.
Incorporate diverse learning materials
Include a wide range of resources such as literature, films, art, music, and articles that represent different cultures and perspectives. Use these materials to initiate discussions and encourage critical thinking about cultural diversity. Ask learners to bring in their own materials too.
Encourage cross-cultural interactions
Facilitate activities that promote interaction and collaboration among students from diverse backgrounds. This could include group projects, discussions, peer learning, or cultural exchange programs. These interactions help students build relationships, break down barriers, and learn from one another. A simple discussion could include completing a Venn diagram showing differences and similarities between cultures and people.
Teach cultural sensitivity and empathy
Help students understand the importance of respecting and appreciating different cultures without judgment or prejudice. Encourage them to put themselves in others' shoes and consider different perspectives. For example, ask them to do role-plays where they take on characters that are different to them.
Provide real-life examples and experiences
Share real-life examples, stories, and personal experiences that illustrate the challenges and benefits of intercultural understanding. This helps students connect theoretical concepts with practical relevance and promotes a deeper understanding. Ask them to share stories too.
Use technology and multimedia
Take advantage of technology to provide virtual field trips, video conferences with individuals from different cultural backgrounds, or online cultural exchange platforms. Incorporating multimedia resources can enhance students' engagement and understanding of diverse cultures. If you do not have access to these resources, bring in stories from around the world in the form of listening or reading and deliver them to your learners.
Encourage reflection and self-awareness
Incorporate reflection activities that prompt students to critically analyse their own cultural backgrounds, biases, and assumptions. This self-reflection allows students to become aware of their own perspectives and promotes an open-minded approach towards others. For example, ask them how someone from a different culture or nation would act in a similar situation when you’re reading a story or text.
Involve parents and the community
Collaborate with parents and engage them in discussions and activities related to intercultural understanding. This involvement promotes a supportive environment and reinforces the importance of cultural diversity in the wider community. Ask parents to come in, too, and share stories from their lives which reinforce intercultural understanding.