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Cultural Experiences in the Classroom

Walking into Ms. Albers’s classroom at Monroe Elementary one would see pens, papers, and bright colored maps…inferring that you would be learning about social studies that morning…not about language and culture.

Inside the walls of this particular classroom there are 20 students. 12 of them speak more than one language, including, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Somali, and Thai, 6 of them were born in a different country, but despite the cultural and language differences, they all have a love for learning.

Chris Albers, has been a teacher in the Des Moines Public School system for 25 years. She got her ELS endorsement about 15 years ago and has been teaching ELL since then. With several languages being spoken in one classroom, many would assume it would be difficult for a teacher, like Ms. Albers to teach a lesson plan. However, according to her, the variety of languages and cultures is an asset to her classroom.

At Monroe Elementary, they have instilled a collaboration program called pull-out groups, where they work with students who may be in the early stages of learning the english language.

According to Albers, these pull-out groups have been proven successful as you’re hardly able to tell which students are fluent English speakers in her classroom and which one’s are just starting to learn.

Despite the language and cultural differences between their peers, the students hardly notice the differences among themselves. They collaborate, discuss, and play with each other. And no matter what their native language may be, they always end class with the same phrase, “to infinity and beyond”.