Communication and Culture

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I have the wonderful opportunity to work with families from different cultures. With my Spanish speaking families I communicate more using non-verbal language and symbols whereas with my English speaking families I communicate in English. I also have a families from India that do speak  mostly English and treat teachers with the utmost respect. Each family is unique and I enjoy working with each of them.

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The first strategy I could use to communicate more effectively with my families is to evaluate the situation before I start communicating with my family. Maybe mom is having a stressful day and could use a good listening ear. Or dad may have been running late to come and pick up David and he is frustrated because he knows he should have been to school to pick up David by now and he knows that he is going to have to sign the late report and explain why he is late. If I pause and access the situation before beginning my conversation I could see the stress and frustrations the parent is feeling and then begin my communication with a non-verbal response of a deep breath and relaxing. Then I could start my conversation by saying that it is wonderful to see mom or dad and I appreciate him or her coming in and picking up their child. Then I could just pause and let them take the next step in the communication process (O’Hair, Wiemann, Mullin, & Teven, 2015, p. 40).


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The second strategy I could use to communicate more effectively with my families is to think beyond what I first see. An example would be Antonio and his mother comes to school soaking wet from the rain. Mom has no umbrella and Antonio has no clean clothes. Instead of forming an opinion and telling mom that Antonio must go home because he has no clean clothes to change into. I focus on the fact that both mom and son are soaking wet and cold so I offer them a towel and have them sit down and I call my manager and ask her or him to bring in some blankets so the mother and son can get warm and he or she offers to take mom home to get clean clothes for her son and so mom can change. Come to find out mom and son had been at the hospital all night with dad and they walked from the hospital to bring Antonio to school and it started to rain and mom wasn’t prepared with an umbrella because all she could think about was if dad was going to be OK (O’Hair, et al., 2015).

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The third strategy I could use to communicate more effectively with my families is to Question and not assume that I know what my families culture or beliefs are. I know my culture however; even different cultures are unique and one family might believe one way and another believes another way. So even  if I have had one family from Japan in my classroom that doesn’t mean that another family from Japan believes the same or that they speak the same language. Last year I had a family from Africa in my class. Dad spoke three languages and mom spoke two languages. The child was three and spoke English well. He still understood his parents language however; I never heard him speak in his native language. I made the mistake of preparing for the child’s arrival by writing the child’s name on the cubby. When mom and dad arrived they were offended because in Africa where they came from children went by their middle name and not their first name.  Of course I couldn’t understand their language yet I could understand their non-verbal language and I knew I had upset them. When the translator arrived they explained the situation to me and I corrected the problem immediately. I felt bad because I hadn’t meet them before the first day of school and so I went ahead and created the child’s name so they could feel a part of the class. I learned from this scenario that I wait until I meet the family to create the child’s name for the classroom. It is important that I don’t assume I talk to the family to learn about their beliefs and culture not what I perceive (O’Hair, et al., 2015).

Have a marvelous week!




O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M., Mullin, D. I., & Teven, J. (2015). Perceiving the Self

           and Others. Real communication, (2) 41-45.





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