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teachers of bilingual education


Minority students are empowered in schools where their language and culture are valued and included in the curriculum. (Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2001). In order for language minority students to experience success at school, and feel supported, teachers are encouraged to incorporate and develop the following characteristics and practices:

  • Use of minority student’s language and culture in the classroom programme.
  • Use of minority students’ language, songs, poems, legends, stories and experiences in the classroom literacy programme (Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2001).

    Students must know that their home language and culture are viewed as assets rather than obstacles for learning. (Altwerger & Lvener, 1994, p78)
  • Display of books, images, posters and items that represent common sports, cultures and traditions.
  • A literacy programme that is based on the children’s own lives and experiences.  

    Key ideas about the world, curriculum and learning can usually be explored best in a person’s first language. (Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2001). Explanations of the content in the person’s first language can help their understanding making their learning of new terminology more comprehensive and efficient. Without the help of the first language, a person may lose ground when they have to deal cognitively demanding tasks of understanding in the new language. (Cummins 1981, p25). In short, using the first language is simply the quickest and the most efficient way to learn conceptual and academic knowledge. (Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2001).
  •  Minority community participation in the children’s education
    (Cummins, 1989, p58).

    Minority community participation is encouraged as an integral component of children’s education. The active involvement of parents in the educational processes of their children creates positive understanding of the place of languages and cultures in education as a whole and involves parents in understanding the nature of empowerment for success in today’s world (Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2001). One way this can be achieved in the classroom for example, is through the use of home language volunteers as resource persons (including parents, cross age, and peer tutors). Another, building partnerships  with parents to continue home language cognitive and academic development at home. (Ovando & Collier, 1998, p116)
  • Adjust teaching style to meet students needs.
  • Allowing social use of the home language outside of classes.
  • Use of a pedagogy that promotes intrinsic motivation on the part of students to use language actively in order to generate their own knowledge. (Cummins, 1989, p58)
  • Read, study and learn thinking skills and implement them in classroom.
  • Ensure assessment systems used will lead to empowerment and success of students and report effectively on progress being made.
  • Sending newsletters and school information to parents in the home language
  • Integrate language teaching with content teaching. (McKeon, 1994, p28)
  • Examine and recognize your own perceptions and behaviours toward children from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. (McKeon, 1994, p27)
  • Reflect on your teaching practice, particularly with regards to the ways in which you interact with students from different linguistic and cultural groups.  (McKeon, 1994, p27)
  • Become informed about language diversity. (Tansley, 1986, p46)

Cummins, J (1981). Bilingualism and minority language children. Toronto: Ontario institute for Studies in Education Press.

Cummins, J (1989). Empowering minority students: Los Angeles: California Association for Bilingual Education

McCaffery, J. & Tuafuti, P. (2001). Empowering minority students: Putting theory into practice. A presentation to the educating  Pasifika  positively Conference April 2001.