An inclusive learning environment for culturally and linguistically diverse learners.
Chetty, Jade Crystal.
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Learners with cultural and linguistic diversities face many challenges in a classroom environment that is not inclusive of their needs. Therefore, this study gives these learners a voice, one that expands their language and cultural beliefs while they are still learning to their full potential. Teachers play a pivotal role in creating this environment for learners, and this study therefore includes teachers in the process of overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers. The study was carried out at a public school in Durban, South Africa, and a qualitative research approach was adopted. This study had a sample size of 5 learners and 3 teachers. This research was unpinned by a critical paradigm, as the researcher wanted to bring about change for these learners. An asset-based approach was used to frame this study, as the researcher wanted to identify the assets in learners and teachers, and mobilise these assets to bring about change. The findings of this study identified the current experiences of the learners and the teachers. Some of the major challenges for learners and teachers were language barriers, the lack of parent involvement, cultural diversity, and the negative attitude of learners. The findings also indicated that a sense of belonging is imperative for learners to function at their full potential. Learners need to be able to participate in the classroom academically and on the playground socially without feeling marginalised because of their cultural and linguistic diversity. Learners also need to have positive relationships with their peers and teachers at school. The findings indicated the practices that can be seen as assets to overcome these challenges, and that can be adopted by teachers and learners. Information and communications Technology (ICT) was identified as essential in making the classroom inclusive, as it has the ability to include diverse languages and cultures within the classroom. Secondly, learners wanted posters in diverse language and cultures to be present in the classroom, to be used as teaching tools to help learners with vocabulary learning, especially through incidental learning. Lastly, learners teaching learners,‖ which is also known as peer teaching, can be utilised as a teaching method for learners who experience language barriers, and for learners in the process of change. In concluding this study, it is recommended that teachers try to use the learners‘ home language in combination with the language of teaching and learning for learners to fully comprehend their subjects. Language and culture are closely linked, where language can be seen as a representation of one‘s culture. People have their own diverse cultures, and hence their own diverse languages. This research therefore emphasises the importance of integrating strategies that will enhance the learning environment for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. This will encourage the learners to progress and learn at their full potential, while still maintaining positive relationships with their school community.