Cultural, Ethnic & Linguistic Relationships to Reading Development

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  • 0:01 Factors of Reading Development
  • 1:17 Learning a Second Language
  • 4:01 Approaches for English…
  • 6:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

All students have different backgrounds to bring to the classroom. This video lesson addresses some things to consider in a reading classroom with regards to students of different cultures.

Factors of Reading Development

There are so many factors that play into a student's reading development. The different backgrounds of the lives of each student have a large influence on any reading experience. As an English teacher, you must be able to take into consideration the differences between your students when planning instruction.

It's not an easy task to incorporate all the varieties of cultures into the classroom, especially if English is not the first language of every student. Different cultures have different values and characteristics, which inherently affect reading development. For example, a facet of American culture is valuing a rags-to-riches type of story. Other cultures might not understand this ideal and may value family time over money and professional success. These differences greatly affect a student's reaction to different types of reading materials.

Understanding the nuances of a language and a culture can take years. However, there are some methods that can be employed in a reading classroom to help reading development, especially if English is a second language.

Learning a Second Language

There are various theories of how a language is learned. Some of these theories can help understand how reading skills will be affected by different cultures. For example, the monitor hypothesis states that there must be a self-monitoring mechanism that allows a language learner to recognize when something about the language is simply not right. Adjustments are then made to correct the mistake. However, in order for this mechanism to work, the student must have an understanding of linguistic rules. As the English teacher, you must address basic linguistic topics with your students from different cultures. In other words, incorporate linguistic rules into your teaching. Don't make assumptions about basic understanding.

Another theory is the input hypothesis, which states that students acquire language through learning material just a bit beyond their reach. As a teacher, you might recognize this idea as scaffolding, which is the support given by a teacher to a student on an individual basis to help with difficult material. Eventually, the teacher removes the scaffolding when the student is ready. With regards to reading development for students with different cultures, teachers can use scaffolding to address the differences in values.

This can also be especially important when dealing with the silent period, which occurs when the language learner is silent, saying nothing, but taking in information. Language learners need this time to digest the new language before actually speaking. For students who speak English, but have different cultures and values, scaffolding can be a great tool to bridge the gap between perspectives.

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