Linguistic diversity is one of the peculiarities that has become integral to contemporary classrooms. Reading is one of the four basic skills that each student should master and diversity sets specific requirements for the teachers to follow. The success of assimilation and retention of this skill, especially in multicultural classrooms, depends not only on the characteristics of children but also on the teacher’s instruction. Importantly, when reading, children use three systems:
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- graph-phonetic (models of sounds/phonemes and letters);
- syntax (sentence patterns);
- semantic system (meaning).
In terms of educational strategies, it is crucial to introduce these three systems in the context of a holistic text, and then divide it into particular parts to analyze each of the systems. Because linguistically diverse children cannot equally effectively comprehend these systems in isolation, they should not be represented in the form of language abstractions (Mascolo, Alfonso, & Flanagan, 2014). During reading comprehension, it is essential to pay children’s attention to the content while keeping track of whether they understand the meaning of what they read or not. When students proceed with the reading assignment, it is significant to make short pauses, so that children can make assumptions about what they are reading and check these assumptions later (Ward Singer, 2014). Also, during the reading task, the teacher should conduct literacy monitoring allowing students to conclude from general to the particular and from concrete to the abstract.
It is essential to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of linguistically diverse students. These discrepancies should be the basis for teacher planning. In particular, differentiated instruction will allow students to reach common educational goals in reading following different paths. The three important domains of differentiation are assessment, educational activities, and grouping (Perez, 2014). It is essential to conduct a continuous evaluation of student performance. It would enable the educator to tailor the instruction according to the current needs of learners. Also, the teacher should provide students with adequate activities. Notably, it does not imply that some students should have easier tasks, but the activities should be customized in cultural, linguistic, and ethical terms. It requires the teachers to be knowledgeable about students’ backgrounds and to prepare such reading activities that are respectful since linguistic diversity in the classroom goes in hand with the cultural multiplicity.
Therefore, the context and the subject of the reading assignment should be understandable to all the learners inclusively and avoid allusions to topics that in any sense might be disrespectful (Gottlieb & Ernst-Slavit, 2013). Further on, when assigning group tasks, students should interact with various classmates. That is to say, grouping should be flexible. It is advisable to put in small subgroups slower learners/readers with more advanced students and to instruct those how to help his or her partner during reading and comprehension of the material.
Details on Differentiation
Regarding the differentiation strategies, they should apply to the four main domains, which are content, process, products, and learning environment. Reading activities can be delineated to the specific needs of different students. In particular, the teacher can support a student’s comprehension with visual aids. Also, it is advisable to discuss with diverse students the new topic beforehand to make sure everyone is familiar with the issue, phenomenon, and so on. It would be helpful to provide students with cards containing the key or complex words so that they can easily catch up with the rest of the class without feeling uncomfortable (Daly, Neugebauer, Chafouleas, & Skinner, 2015). Also, students should engage in activities that would help them master the content. At this point, it is particularly important to explain to the diverse learners what is expected from them and what reading skills they have to demonstrate. Moreover, it is crucial to create shame and barrier-free educational environment so that learners can ask the teacher to explain some of the domains during any stage of the lesson.
Daly, E., Neugebauer, S., Chafouleas, S., & Skinner, C. (2015). Interventions for reading problems. New York, NY: Guilford Publications.
Gottlieb, M., & Ernst-Slavit, G. (2013). Academic language in diverse classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Mascolo, J., Alfonso, V., & Flanagan, D. (2014). Essentials of planning, selecting, and tailoring interventions for unique learners. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Perez, K. (2014). The new inclusion. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Ward Singer, T. (2014). Opening doors to equity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.