Houston, Texas is truly the definition of a multicultural city. This can perhaps best be reflected in the fact that this one community has the third highest concentration of foreign consulates and embassies in the country…
Only New York City and Washington, D.C. can claim that level of diversity in terms of different ethnic groups who call the city home. Before talking about how the educational system in the area deals with the multicultural makeup of the student body, it is helpful to first understand the importance of identifying the melting pot that Houston has become. Some estimates have upwards of 90 languages being spoken in the area, which is in itself considerable. More than just ethnic groups, however, the diversity in Houston can be seen in the various lifestyles that the people exhibit. Houston is considered to be one of the more liberal urban areas in Texas, even hosting a sizable gay pride parade. All of these various factors necessitate that educators in the area implement a pan to create a truly multicultural classroom and encourages intercultural communication (Nieto & Bode, 2012). That plan is the basis for this paper. Community Demographics Houston is home to almost every major ethnic group imaginable. From the countries of Asia, to the outer reaches of Africa, and most countries in Latin America, one is likely to encounter an individual from another ethnic group just by going about daily life. All of these various groups, naturally, have children in schools throughout the area. Some areas are more ethnic than others, creating an especially dire need for educators well versed in multicultural education. Houston, for example, has separate and distinct Chinatowns in different parts of the city. One area has such a high population of Vietnamese and Chinese residents that the street sings are dual language in order to provide deeper intercultural communication. Given Houston’s proximity to Mexico and other Southwestern states that have a high population of Latino residents, various areas of the city of heavily minority based. Individuals from Latin American have a distinct culture that contributes to the richness of Houston’s diversity, yet presents the need for educators and citizens alike to be ready to understand and accept multiple ethnic groups within any one social setting. In any given classroom throughout the city, one is likely to find a mix of students from multiple ethnic and language groups. While it is true that many Latin American students share a common language, the rising percentage of Asian students in the community creates a unique problem of having multiple languages represented under one room. Whereas current ELL programs are historically focused on helping the Spanish speaker, for example, teacher’s are now needed to adding their methodologies to reach all students using the English language as the medium, while developing strategies to assist the multitude of language groups present in the city (Bobadilla, 2013). Three Ethnic Groups and Background Vietnamese Students Consider the many Vietnamese students I know around the Houston area. In order to better understand their particular needs in the classroom, it is helpful to first comprehend the reality of their daily life. Vietnam is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. In addition, the educational system in the country is considered substandard, when measured up against much of Asia, and indeed the West. So, students from Vietnam are often at a comparative disadvantage to other students on many fronts. First, they are adjusting to a culture that is entirely foreign to them. Whereas Houston has taken on many components of the Latino culture (thereby making Spanish speaking students fell a bit more at home), that luxury does not exist for the Vietnamese in our ...
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