Teaching and learning process is a complex process. The factors that makes it complex is the diversity as well as the multicultural background of the learners where they belong. The differences create an atmosphere where the ability of the teachers to address these is to put to test. Teachers are known for teaching the learners with various methods, strategies and other instructional approaches to meet their individual needs. Learners to they are becoming more diverse and it is clearly evident in many classrooms today. Only educating the learners is no longer enough nowadays, because of educational setting as well as the learners are being revolutionized. As an agent for change, teachers are obliged to be multiculturally aware of the learners differences and encourage positive attitude and understanding as well as to respect, embrace and become sensitive to the differences of individuals. The process of this research is to gather different information that are useful to the teachers who are handling diverse learners in a multicultural classroom that will enhance their understanding and level of multicultural competence.
This diversity has continuously increasing the different challenges and changes that are clearly seen and present that affects teachers as well as the learners. For learners from different ethnic groups their crucial challenges are to understand and respect the identity and beliefs of others. For foreign learners, adaptation to a new environment brings a lot of intellectual and sociocultural challenges. For teachers teaching in a multicultural setting having considerable knowledge without bias of each and every learner’s cultural affiliations, religions, identities, customs, beliefs and thoughts is challenging. These teachers need to have sufficient mastery of different cultural setting and ability to facilitate Intercultural communicative competence among the learners. Teachers are also expected to improve strategies and provide reinforcement activities such as giving a chance to both local and foreign learners to represent their own cultures, beliefs and thoughts in a way that involves the learners in lessons without any feeling of belongingness. For teachers to be able to create welfare in the classroom these kinds of activities are a must; they need to have a curriculum, which grant them to turn strategies and approaches into action.
Intercultural communication competence (ICC); embrace people who belong to different cultural background, identities, and beliefs. According to the findings of Gollnick and Chinn (2002), today’s teachers are required to teach learners different language, culture, capabilities and attributes. So teachers have vital role in initiating security in classroom/school environment by teaching or facilitating ICC.
Recent research appears that teaching language does not involve linguistics competence only. This teaching also includes intercultural communicative competence because teaching a language is teaching the culture of that language, itself. According to Politzer (in Brooks, 2001), learners would attribute incorrect meanings to language not unless learning that language with its cultural references. Teaching linguistic competence allow learners to use a language in four core skills; reading, writing, speaking and listening properly. However, teaching ICC within linguistic competence allows learners to communicate and interact with the people who come from different ethnic groups, religions, cultures, or identities. Therefore, it should be taken into consideration on how the teacher facilitate and teach ICC in a multicultural environment and what are the challenges faced by the teachers in terms of teaching ICC.
According to Vollmer (2000), social and academic atmosphere in the classrooms setting are greatly influenced by teachers’ thoughts and beliefs. However, Howard (1999) stated that “We can`t teach what we don`t know.” It is important considerate that the teachers should have sufficient knowledge about the different religions, identities, beliefs, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds of their learners and also know different ICC strategies that can be used to facilitate teaching and learning processes in a multicultural classroom. This knowledge and skill will help decrease misinterpretation among learners about their cultural differences. Thus, in providing the learners a peaceful atmosphere and learning environment the teachers must have enough knowledge in applying different ICC strategies in classroom environment.
According to Washington.edu “Multicultural education promotes connection between home and community, encourages inclusion of multiple respective and builds a knowledge base about ethic groups develops students cross- cultural skills and encourages positive attitudes about living and functioning in multicultural, global society.” The main purpose of multicultural education is to modify different teaching and learning approaches to meet the needs of the diverse learners and create equal opportunities to develop their skills.
Teacher and multicultural education not only indicates the diversity of society; it promotes awareness about unfairness, favoritism and stereotyping that cause dissimilarity. Thus, teachers are obliged to act as the spokesperson of social development by preventing an impartial and equal right for all citizens. To aim the goal of this study teacher must help the learners to enhance their critical and analytical thinking skills in a multicultural classroom.
Teacher’s points of view have direct significance and may determine the positive result or lack of success of multicultural education in school. Teacher’s sentiment toward multiculturalism is manifested in areas like interaction with teachers and students, acknowledging learners, desire of student’s attainment and other aspects. In additional, teachers are not just accountable for providing wisdom to their student; they also play as multicultural agents by assisting students from various nationality.
According to Diller and Moule (2005) the multicultural awareness of the teachers are their ability to educate learners with different cultural backgrounds. In order to administer multicultural teaching, teachers should be aware of with the complex, culture and emotion of the learners, besides they must be sensitive and knowledgeable with the various fields and skills. Ponterotto (1998) define multicultural awareness that the teachers are fortunate to see cultural diversity as an advantage to feel that they are responsible to address multicultural problems in the curriculum as well as in the teaching learning process.
According to Spaniermen et. Al (2010) multicultural teacher competency is an imperative component to make sure that the objectives of multicultural education are obtain in a multi-ethnic and multi society such as Malaysia. Multicultural teaching competency is to examine the learner’s attitudes, and beliefs regarding multiculturalism. Therefore, teachers could enlarge their perception about the characteristics of various cultures to assess the result of their knowledge and beliefs on their teaching. Culturally relevant teaching has three observable patterns; “an ability to develop students academically, a willingness to nurture and support culture competence and the development of a social- political or critical consciousness” it emphasizes the needs of the teachers on how they adopt the criteria in order to understand the needs of the diverse learners in multicultural classrooms.
According to the findings of Gay (2000) “culturally responsive teaching is defined as using the cultural characteristics, experiences and perspectives of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively” there are five important factors of culturally responsive teaching. They involve their selves in developing their knowledge, regarding cultural diversity as well as ethnic and cultural diversity content in the curriculum. Gay (2000) believed that when educational knowledge and skills are located within the level of proficiency of the learners, they are more personally significant, have higher interest appeal and they easily learned more about it.
Culture embrace numerous aspects with have direct implications for teaching and learning. These are namely ethic groups cultural values traditions and relation patterns. Teachers know how to deal with different ethnic groups and gives priority to communal living and cooperative problem solving and how does it affects the educational motivation, aspiration, the task performance and different ways of interaction between children and adults in instructional setting in different ethnic groups. The knowledge that the teachers understand towards the diversity are goes mere awareness of respecting ethnic groups that they have different values.
According to Banks and Banks (1997) the federal interagency forum or child and family statistics (1998) in the United States, one out of three learners enrolled in school today is racial minority background. The Demographers predict that learners of color will make up about 46% of the United States school age population by the year 2020. Around the year 2035, these learners are expected establish a majority of the elementary and high school learner’s population. One out of five learners under 18 years old are currently lives in poverty. The population of school age learners who speak other language aside from English at home and facing difficulty in speaking English was 2.4 million in 1995 a 5% of all the school age learners in the United States (federal indecency forum on child and family statistics 1998).It is very important to provide an authorized and unprejudiced education for all the learners in the United States. As stated by Holmes Group (1990) the teachers should be prepared in terms of curriculum, philosophy and pedagogy in dealing with the different challenges in meeting the needs of the learners as wells to work actively on supporting the fairness issues in their schools and communities. Sapon-Shevin and Zollers (1999) stated that the ‘Multicultural Education’ has been added in the courses of many teacher education programs in order to address their needs, and the teacher education accreditation organizations have demanded that programs shows where and how multicultural education aims are achieved in the program. The “Educating Teachers for Cultural Diversity” research project of Melnick and Zeichner (1997) seek to emphasize several model of teacher education programs, and to direct more broad attention to the issues of diversity in teacher education programs. With the participation of different institutions in their study, the four different approaches in dealing with the institutional aspects of teacher education for diversity were uncovered.
1. Programs such as the Madison Plan, which hire new more faculty of colors to diversify the faculty composition in the University of Wisconsin-Madison and MSU IDEA at Michigan State University.
2. The teacher education faculty establish systematic staff development to help them evaluate their own attitudes towards the diverse people and learn about the different aspects of teacher education diversity and ways to inculcate it into their programs and institution such as Multicultural Education Infusion Center at Washington State University.
3. The American Indian and Latino Immersion Project at the Indiana University in Bloomington are the best examples for the partnership agreements between generally white teacher education institutions and other universities or other colleges with large number of faculty and learners of colors.
4. The creation of organization, where a group of institutions join together their resources to hire staff with expertise in teacher education for diversity to give part of the teacher education program, usually a few courses, seminars related in teaching diverse learners and field experiences.
According to Price and Valli (1998) in order to create and provide a successful teacher education program for diversity, institutional support is vital. Absence of clarity about multiculturalism and lack of diverse faculty members could make the progress difficult in attempting to change teacher preparation programs. The main benefactors of the diverse faculty are the learner, where in the diverse faculty would be able to give a variety of perspectives.Expanding the cultural diversity of teachers in education for the future is to model the positive incorporation of racial, ethnic and gender diversity.
The learners of this generation are the good examples with different learning style, cultural orientation, habits and socio-cultural background, there must be a high observation in implementing the multicultural education in every classroom of the world.
As stated by Mitchell Salsbury(p. 259) the learner’s population here in the Philippines are becoming culturally diverse, it’s imperatively to provide an empowering and fair education for all diverse learners. The teacher’s preparations are one of the highest properties to help prospective teachers acquire the knowledge,skills and disposition to manage effectively the learners. Even though the education sector has limited budget, the multicultural education has been implemented in both schools and non-school activities to respond to the changing needs of the learners of the modern generation. The responsible in ensuring that the multicultural education is properly implemented inside the classroom of the country is the Office of the Deputy Minister for Higher Education (now Department of Education)
The Philippine school setting, shows no racial discrimination among social classes, religious affiliation, gender and economic status. These diverse learners are receiving fair and equal treatment inside the four corners of the classroom from their teachers in terms of the class discussion, cultural and religious exploration, subject content and the likes.