“Once you understand and respect the differences between you and the
student, you will be much more successful.” - Ross MacDonald
culture? Culture refers to the sum total of acquired values,
beliefs, customs, and traditions experienced by a group as familiar and
normal. It includes the way groups of people think, dress, eat, talk,
and treat each other; the way they decorate and celebrate and
cohabitate; the things that are most important to them, and their
interpretation of right and wrong.
Education in California illustrates that our state constitutes one of the most
diverse gathering of cultures in the world. This mix provides students
with a rich learning opportunity, but it also creates a climate of
frustration and misunderstanding.
Carmencita loves Patrick.
Patrick loves Si Lan Chen.
Xenophon loves Mary Jane.
Hildegarde loves Ben.
Lucienne loves Eric.
Giovanni loves Emma Lee.
Natasha loves Miguelito--
And Miguelito loves me.
Ring around the Maypole!
Ring around we go--
Weaving our bright ribbons
Into a rainbow! – LANGSTON HUGHES
As a tutor, you will be working with students from other cultures. One
of the proud hallmarks of Lake Tahoe Community College is its diverse student
population. This diversity applies to a number of aspects of student
identity, including race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, and
political and religious beliefs. The diversity of the College's student
population is valued, and the College aims to create an environment that
allows and encourages all students to realize their academic potential.
Nevertheless, student diversity can be a source of challenge in the
Tutors find themselves in a position to make a strong contribution
towards bridging cultural gaps and breaking down learning barriers
caused by cultural differences. But the challenges are twofold for many
of our tutors. A high percentage of our tutors are foreign and minority
students and often have to work through cultural misconceptions that
their tutees bring to the sessions. At the same time tutors need to
approach learning sessions with respect and skill that allows for the
confident free exchange of ideas.
Tutors have a responsibility to
Avoid Gender Bias. The best place to learn how to deal with tutee
diversity is in the tutoring environment itself. By employing the
techniques and listening skills introduced in previous lessons, tutors
will have a “golden opportunity” to learn how to effectively work with
our diverse student population.
Tutoring Foreign Students
When tutoring foreign students you will gain an appreciation for
different cultures when you establish an atmosphere of trust and
acceptance. Encourage the students to talk about their family and
country. If you are asked about American customs, be sensitive to the
tutee's viewpoints. What is socially acceptable in the U.S. might be
unthinkable in the student's culture. Most foreign students are eager to
talk about their country and traditions. This interaction might be a
valuable learning experience for you.
Some questions you might want to ask a foreign student include:
• Tell me about your travels in other countries and the U.S.
• What are your impressions of life in the U.S.?
• Why did you decide to come to Lake Tahoe Community College?
• Have American customs been a problem for you?
• What do you miss most about your country?
When you begin tutoring a foreign student, be aware that sometimes
the student will become dependent on you for more than just tutoring.
The student might see you as a much needed new friend, or as a source of
information about not only scholarly interests, but social interests.
Student dependence can become an obstacle to bridging the cultural gap.
The following are general tips for working with English as a Second
Language (ESL) students:
• Speak clearly, naturally and avoid using slang.
• Use repetition.
• Frequently ask the student if what you are saying makes sense.
• Ask students to become the tutor and explain the concept to you.
• Use restatement to clarify the student's response--I think you
• If the student does not understand you, write down what you are
• If you do not understand the student, ask them to write what they
• Encourage students to read and to use their dictionaries.
Valuing the perspectives of women and men
In recent years, we have all become more aware of how deep-seated
assumptions about male and female behavior and roles have affected
education. These assumptions are being challenged in many ways, but some
linger, unexamined and often unconscious. .
Women report feeling uncomfortable in some classrooms and instructional
settings because of subtle comments which marginalize them. The
automatic use of 'he' is one such custom and the importance of
non-discriminatory language has already been stressed. Beyond this,
there may be a need at times to consciously 'make room' for women's
voices. A number of studies suggest that they do not always get their
fair share of the floor in mixed discussion groups. The pattern of
marginalization can extend to the kinds of examples that are used to
illustrate points and the kinds of experiences that are regarded as
universal or central. Conversely, some men in largely female classes or
groups may feel that their perspectives and experiences are not taken
There are no easy rules for transforming perceptions; the whole society
is engaged in a complex, and sometimes painful, re-thinking of many
attitudes. The essential general principle is one of self-awareness. Try
to be aware of, and analyze, your own assumptions and be aware of the
people with whom you are dealing. This is a matter of empathy, thinking
yourself into their positions. Basic good will in this area, as in all
areas which involve difference, goes a long way.
Be sure to look at the following sites. They will give you additional
information on multicultural awareness.
Students and tutors at Lake Tahoe Community College might want to contact
Student Services for information regarding campus clubs and