Teaching English in Culturally Diverse Classrooms: A Case Study

Teaching English in Culturally Diverse Classrooms: A Case Study

Diana Presadă (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania) and Mihaela Badea (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4097-7.ch002
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Abstract

The focus of the present chapter is on various problems related to teaching non-native speakers of English belonging to different cultural backgrounds, as well as on the solutions that instructors and curriculum makers can adopt in order to improve students' language performance. The chapter shows that the teaching strategies used during the English classes taught to international students are of great importance for the instructional process and problems related to cultural differences, students' learning behaviors that may be different from the instructors' expectations, and other aspects that may hinder the instructional process in general.
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Introduction

As the number of international students enrolled in universities has significantly increased everywhere in the world, both instructors and learners have to overcome the challenges of a new educational environment. The purpose of the chapter is to identify problems related to teaching non-native English speakers from different cultural backgrounds and suggest optimal strategies that may help them to surpass linguistic and cultural barriers by means of English classes.

Starting from the premise that students’ perceptions of their English classes can be a good indicator of the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process itself, the study keeps in view the following research questions:

  • To what extent doEnglish classes help international students to feel comfortable and interact with each other?

  • What are students’ most frequent linguistic errors that impede communication?

  • What problems do these students have to cope with in the new educational setting?

  • What teaching strategies should English teachers use to develop these learners’ intercultural abilities?

  • What measures should be taken to encourage students’ interaction within a specific social group?

The research is based on a focus group made up of undergraduate students enrolled in various faculties at a Romanian University. All participants are studying English because this subject is part of the curriculum, irrespective of their chosen field of study.

The authors consider the qualitative research method the most suitable for the purpose of the study as it enables them to explore the participants’ views and personal experience in a direct, flexible and friendly way. Combined with classroom observation, the assessment of the learners’ opinions expressed during the group discussion offered the researchers the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of culturally diverse students’ needs and expectations, and to adopt appropriate academic measures within and through English classes.

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