Identifying Language Minority Students’ Barriers in Mainstream Classroom Essay
Traditionally, students representing this or that national minority had some problems in mainstream classroom, mainly because they felt isolated, or, to put it more precisely, different from the rest of the students. The problems such students faces are common for different societies, regardless the country where they study though the more developed the society is the less barriers minority students face. Speaking about the barriers, which make the process of education of students from different national or any other kind of minority quite difficult, they are different and briefly speaking they may be divided into several groups.
First of all, the barriers are social that have socio-economic background. What is meant here is the social status of minority students that make them feel uncomfortable compared to other students. It is not a secret that many students representing national minority belong to low-class family where the income is low and parents can hardly provide normal conditions of life for their children. It is particularly obvious in such countries as the US, when newly arrived immigrants, especially those from Latin America which currently are particularly numerous, have language problem. Naturally their children go to school where the language problems gets to be even more serious and is significantly deteriorated by the low social status of their family. In such a situation minority students feel as if they are outcasts deprived of equal social opportunities compared to other students. Naturally, the rest of the class cannot fully accept such students as totally equal because of their poverty and social disrespect that leads to their isolation. Obviously this problem has to be solved but the solution is very difficult because it is possible improve the attitude to minority students only through improvement of their social status and public opinion that needs additional funding and financial support of minority families which are particularly poor. Furthermore, it is necessary to create connection between student’s family, school and community so that a family, being a part of the community helped the student be better integrated in the schools system and mainstream class. At the same time the improvement of financial situation should be accompanied by change in public opinion, it means other students have to learn to respect minority students and help them to adapt as soon as possible.
Another serious problem that is closely related to social problem is cultural difference that exists between minority students and the rest of the class. In fact this problem in some cases is even more serious that social status of minority students and their families. For instance, minority students originating from Islamic countries faced a lot of problems, especially at the period of great panic caused by terror attacks, such as 9/11. Obviously they cannot refuse from their beliefs and they cannot change their cultural traditions, and what is more important they should not do it though the attitude to such students deteriorated dramatically only because they belong to such a cultural group. Naturally it is necessary to look for solutions which could improve the co-existence of different cultures within one and the same class. It can be done only through the promotion of cultural tolerance and respect to different cultures. All students should realise that there is a variety of cultures and there are no better or worse cultures but the cultures that differ from their own. In fact, mainstream class should be based on principles of multicultural coexistence of different students without any kind of discrimination. Naturally, it will be easier for a minority student to get used to a class with multicultural beliefs where his/her culture would not be criticised or discriminated.
Finally, there is problem on an individual level. It means that minority students may need a longer time for adaptation in the mainstream class. Moreover, often such students may be simply shocked by a new socio-cultural and language environment. The latter makes their communication with other students very problematic. At the same time, the language problems may lead to low academic successes of minority students for they have to pass standardised tests which are not adapted to the needs of students with low level of knowledge of language that naturally leads to failures of minority students during the tests. Obviously this problem may be solved through the development of special programs, including special tests adapted to the skills and abilities of language minority students so that they could easily understand English and adequately respond, or else the use of simplified sentences, etc. however, it won’t solve psychological problems minority students face. This type of problems may be solved through the creation of caring atmosphere within a class so that students feel comfort and secure to learn.
Thus, in conclusion, it is possible to say that minority students face a lot of problems on three levels: social, cultural and individual but all of them can be solved on the condition of great respect to students, representing different cultural and social groups, and their personality.
1. Rebore Ronald W. Human Resources Administration in Education, LA: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.
2. Richard-Amato Patricia A. and Snow, Marguerite Ann. The Multicultural Classroom; Readings for Content-Area Teachers, New York: Longman, 1992.
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