- choose an English Language Learner in your school (or an ELL who may have previously attended
your school) and collect the English-Learner Profile information from Figure 1.1 on page 6 about that
student in a word-processed document..
- Provide specific examples of some of the factors that impact an ELL�s new language acquisition
- How does the existence of a macroculture and microcultures affect schools in the United States?
- Describe cultural relativism in your own words.
- Describe some characteristics of the mainstream culture of the United States.
- What are the implications of culture on people’ s attitudes toward schooling?
- Define ethnography and describe two ethnographic techniques.
Factors that affect English Language Learners’ (ELLs) second language acquisition
include psychological factors, age, background of the learner, and previous L2 experience.
Other factors include socio-emotional factors such as level of anxiety, motivation, self-
esteem, attitude towards the educator and the class, and attitude toward L2. The learning style
or cognitive style and learning strategies are also key factors. Furthermore, sociocultural
factors such as family values, family acculturation and usage of L2 and L1, sociocultural
support for L1 within the classroom environment, and institutional support for L1 are also
important factors that affect ELLs’ second language acquisition.
The existence of a macroculture and microcultures affect schools in America in that a
multi-cultural curriculum has to be established that would allow students to learn vital
concepts while integrating cultural diversity into everyday lessons and the overall curriculum.
Moreover, because of the existence of a macroculture and microcultures in the United States,
multicultural curriculum has to be organized around themes or concepts that deal with
culture, history, contemporary experiences of ethnic minority groups in American life,
contributions of ethnic groups to America’s mainstream culture, as well as expressions like
discrimination, immigration, cultural assimilation and acculturation, and protest and
resistance (Banks & Banks, 2012).
Cultural relativism is essentially the principle concerned with the practices, values and
beliefs of a culture from that culture’s perspective. This principle holds that the activities and
beliefs of an individual have to be understood by other people in terms of that person’s own
culture. In essence, actions should not be measured by other people’s standards, but rather by
the standards of a person’s own unique culture (Terry, 2010). In the United States, the
mainstream culture is characterized by a collective set of symbols, ideals, and values which
comprise the core culture. The mainstream culture is shared in some measure by all the
different ethnic and cultural groups in the country. In this culture, individualism is an ideal.
The implication of culture on people’s attitudes towards schooling is that learners
would be able to understand and appreciate dissimilarities and similarities amongst different
ethnic groups in the school community. Learners should understand and acknowledge human
diversity. Understanding and appreciating human diversity is fostered through direct
interpersonal contact as well as through awareness of the culture and history of diverse
groups, including their art, music, inventions, myths, stories and values. Ethnography
essentially refers to a type of qualitative research that studies an entire culture. The aim of an
ethnographic approach is cultural interpretation. The ethnographer goes further than just
reporting details and events of experience. In particular, the ethnographer tries to explain the
way in which these represent the cultural constructions wherein people live. Two
ethnographic techniques include (i) participant observation which is carried out as a part of
field research – this is typified by a long-lasting engagement, perhaps months or years, in the
location in which the ethnography occurs; and (ii) interviews – the ethnographer asks specific
but unstructured, open-ended questions.
Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2012). Multicultural Education: Issues and perspectives.
Ethnic and racial studies, 17(5): 19-26
Terry, N.P. (2010). Cultural and linguistic diversity: Issues in education. Ethnic and racial
studies, 16(2): 80-98