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Online Resources for Promoting Cultural Understanding in the Adult ESL Classroom

CAELA has compiled the following list of links to resources that teachers can consult as they seek to promote cultural understanding, tolerance, and cross-cultural communication in their adult ESL classrooms.A number of materials and collections on teaching tolerance, cultural understanding, dealing with trauma, etc. emerged in the aftermath of the tragedies of September 11, 2001. While we do not want to focus solely on the issues, emotions, and cultural perspectives that have been most immediately connected to those events, we do recognize their broader relevance and have therefore included some resources connected to them.

We have also included some good resources developed for children that, with some modifications, can be used with adults.

CAELA Resources

Trauma and the Adult English Language Learner (Digest, 2000)
Discusses trauma and abuse and the effects they can have on adult ESL learners and learning.

Valuing Diversity in the Multicultural Classroom (Digest, 1994)
Looks at the ways in which diverse ways of knowing can be acknowledged and activated in adult ESL and family literacy classes.

Curricula, Lesson Plans, and Instructional Resources

Stereoptypes and Discrimination Activities Web Sites
Activities and lessons (most using online resources) that ask learners to think about stereotyping and discrimination in a variety of contexts.

Teaching Tolerance
A Web project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, this site offers ideas (inlcuding self-evaluations and classroom lessons) for eachers, parents, and students to promote tolerance and understanding in everyday life.

Tolerance Project Web Site: Lessons in Tolerance
Lessons, materials, and other resources to help teachers promote tolerance. Created as a collaborative project by staff and learners at City College of San Francisco.

Culture and Cultural Background Resources

Crossing Borders: Multicultural Literature in the Classroom
The authors discuss the use of multicultural literature as a means of exploring cultures and promoting intercultural understanding in classroom settings.

Initiated by the United States Refugee Program, this site provides information on cultural orientation for refugees abroad and in the U.S. and baackground information on refugee groups themselves.

Cultural Profiles Project
Created by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in conjunction with faculty of the University of Toronto, this site provides overviews of life and customs in over 100 countries.

A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
This framework, created by Dr. Milton Bennett, describes peoples' reactions to cultural differences.

Doing Cross-Cultural Research in Adult Education: Methodological and Epistemological Considerations
Although it focuses on rsearch practice, the text of this presentation by Dr. Barbara Sparks at the 1997 American Education Research Association's annual conference raises some interesting issues about how people frame observations and interpretations of behaviors across cultures.

While this site developed by University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle focuses on issues related to health care of immigrants, it does contain information about cultural beliefs for some less commonly found groups.

Intercultural Press
Intercultural Press publishes materials focusing on culture and intercultural communication and understanding, including guides to working with specific cultures and cross-cultural training theory and activities.

Reading Online's Articles on Multiculturalism and Literacy Instruction
Using Reading Online's site search engine, you can find numerous articles on multiculturalism and English literacy and language instruction, including theory and ideas for classroom activities.

Cultural Orientation Resource Center's Cultural Fact Books and Phrase Books
Developed originally for refugee service providers, these books provide cultural information and translations of functional phrases for a variety of groups including Afghans, Bosnians, Haitians, and Somalis.

Social Construction of Chinese Models of Teaching
This paper, presented at the 1998 American Education Research Association conference, discusses Chinese perspectives on teachers and the teacher-student relationship.

Teaching from a Hispanic Perspective: A Handbook for Non Hispanic Educators
This handbook, developed by the Arizona Adult Literacy and Technology Resource Center, offers insights into Hispanic culture and its implications for learning processes in the English language classroom.

Working on Common Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges
This article presents six fundamental patterns of cultural differences, or the general ways in which cultures tend to differ. The authors then discuss how the patterns can be used to raise awareness and to address cross-cultural issues as they arise in multicultural collaboration.

Web Sites and Online Collections

Multicultural Web Sites: Diversity and Ethnic Studies
A wide range of online collections and databases relating to diversity, ethnicity, and multilingual/multicultural perspectives are presented here.

Nebraska Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy's Multicultural Information
Links to information on specific ethnic groups, multicultural organizations, online magazines, and a multicultural curriculum are included in this site.