Beware of Cultural Irrelevance


Sitting next to my 2nd grade son this evening as he did his homework, I noticed a great example of cultural irrelevance.  Would language learners know who "King Kong" or "Big Foot" are?  The directions ask the student to circle the sentences that show excitement.  Without knowledge of who these two scary characters are, English learners or students from other countries might have difficulty with the task.  In class, the teacher could support students by explaining who these two characters are with a visual reference prior to students practicing the proofreading skill.  Because this assignment was given as homework it ends up being an example of a culturally irrelevant task that students may not be able to complete independently and possibly not even with the help of parents who may not have the cultural referents needed (Big Foot and King Kong).  This example shows how important it is for teachers to preview the reading materials and curriculum that students will be using - especially when they are language learners!

Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen
Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen


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