Introduction many, been seen as constituting a positive

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Introduction many, been seen as constituting a positive

Introduction

Over the last few decades, population mobility and movement from one country to
another has resulted in linguistic and cultural diversity being much more
visible.  Many European countries having
in recent decades welcomed moderate population migrations, now have an
increasingly multicultural populace (Dobbernack & Modood, 2011; Turton
& Gon?alez, 2000). This increase in visibility has, for many, been seen as
constituting a positive outcome.  However,
this is not a universal axiom. Partly as a result of large refugee influxes as
well as in conjunction with economic pressures on the middle class, there has
been an upsurge worldwide in the number of ethnocentric identity groups
believing that people who are linguistically and culturally different from
themselves constitute a negative influence, and therefore must be excluded. This
chance has led to societies having to face a dawning reality that more efforts
need to be made to counteract what some refer to as ethno-nationalist populism
(Bonikowski, 2017). The question is what can we do to decrease this rise?

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Greece is an example of a country historically
monolingual and monocultural, which gradually became more diverse because of
the large number of migrants which came to stay in the 1990s and 2000s. These
earlier immigrants, whether documented or undocumented came seeking a better
future and in many cases, they came to stay. The Greek educational system put
various policies and programs into place intended to assist in the education
and integration of the new arrivals. These earlier arrivals wanted to
stay.  Recently though, large numbers of
refugees have arrived, who unlike former migrants, do not want to stay, and yet
because of EU policy cannot leave and while wanting to learn other languages,
are reluctant to learn Greek, thus adding contextual challenges to the entire
process.

Educators are at the forefront of those tasked with
dealing with the issues of immigrant and now refugee integration. They need wo
work effectively with linguistically and culturally diverse students. It
doesn’t always relate exclusively to teaching strategies and techniques, but
also must take into consideration issues of diversity, culture, language,
sensitivity and efficacy.  As such, we
posit that these need to be looked at and incorporated in teacher preparation
programs.

Purpose

Our focus in this paper, or better yet research brief,
is to look at how equipped pre-service teachers are in Greek Higher Education
Institutions (HEI). The research questions of the study are related to intercultural
sensitivity (IS), multicultural efficacy (ME), attitudes towards
multilingualism (ML) of students attending teacher education programs. We look to
identify factors which may influence the IS and ME of preservice primary
education teachers in Greece by addressing: a) what is the IS and ME of teacher
education students, b) what factors appear to influence the extent of their IS and
ME and c) what are their attitudes regarding ML. To this end, we administered online
adjusted versions of a) Chen and Starosta’s (2000) IS Scale, b) Guyton and
Wesche’s (2005) ME Scale and c) survey questions on perceived values of being
able to communicate in additional languages to over 200 pre-service
teacher-education students in different geographically situated Greek
universities.

Demographic
Realities

Today, societies tend to be characterized by increased
movement of people from their point of origin to other places. Worldwide one
notes that people are moving for a variety of reasons, some because they seek
something new and thus choose to move and do so on their own terms.  Others because they have no other choice.  In 2015, 4.7 million people immigrated to one
of the 28 EU countries while another 2.8 million EU residents migrated out of
EU states (Eurostat, 2017). The number of children from immigrant and migrant
families attending schools throughout many European countries has increased
during the last two decades. Looking at numbers in Greece before the economic
crisis, of the over 10 million persons living in Greece over 10% were of non-Greek
heritage and in areas of Athens the percentage jumped to well over 50% with
commensurate percentages related in the school age population most arriving in
the last 20 years (Spinthourakis
& Katsillis, 2003). This increase has changed classroom demographics moving
them from cultural and linguistic homogeneity to one more markedly
heterogeneous, with recent non-Greek population drops to 6.6% not significantly
changing the educational landscape (Triandafyllidou & Mantanika, 2016).

Teacher
education and issues of diversity

Teaching in a culturally
diverse class necessitates having to be in a ready to address the student’s needs,
identify their experiences and how their students think so that they can to support
them to become part of their new world. Getting to that place, a place where
the teacher feels empowered to take on this task becomes a focal point for
teacher education programs.  This isn’t
always the case as serious concerns have been voiced about teachers’ readiness
to meet these new realities.  In that
teachers need to work effectively with linguistically and culturally diverse
learners, including elements that promote intercultural sensitivity, multicultural
efficacy and multilingualism as a fundamental components of teacher education
programs takes on added value.

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