Cultural competence is an increasingly important part of 21st-century learning and global citizenship. As the world gets more interconnected, it becomes essential that students learn to appreciate and understand various cultures. Heritage language education is an inclusive way to promote cultural competence in the classroom while also helping children build a deeper connection with their culture (heritage).
With this increased awareness about local and global issues, heritage language education cultivates intercultural understanding through thoughtful interpersonal interactions among peers from diverse backgrounds — critical for personal growth and professional success in today’s world. So, read on to learn how teachers can support their students in becoming culturally competent as they learn their home languages or expand into other ones.
Acknowledgment of Multiple Identities
Heritage language education is an effective way to help individuals develop cultural competence by recognizing and acknowledging that everyone has multiple identities that collectively make up their full identity. Learning a heritage language helps an individual actively recognize the importance of their own cultural heritage while also being open-minded and respectful toward other cultures.
Developing Appreciation for Other Cultures
Heritage language education allows students to gain a more holistic understanding of other cultures as they learn about the traditions, history, and customs associated with their target language. This, in turn, promotes respect for cultural differences among peers and society.
Through heritage language education, learners can become proficient in both their native and heritage languages. This improved language ability can help them better understand the cultural nuances of both languages. It also helps to break down language barriers and promote positive interactions between people of all backgrounds.
Heritage language education offers students the opportunity to become comfortable communicating in their target language, thus improving their verbal communication skills. This enhanced communication increases access to different cultures, creating opportunities for more meaningful relationships among individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Learning about a culture through its language helps learners gain a global perspective encompassing multiple perspectives and worldviews. Understanding how other cultures view the world allows individuals to take a critical stance when analyzing current events and to engage in conversations about global issues.
Pride in One’s Culture
Heritage language education allows individuals to connect with their cultural roots and gain a deeper appreciation of their cultural heritage, which can help foster a sense of pride and identity. This also helps build bridges between different generations as they learn to appreciate the perspectives and values of previous generations.
Developing Intercultural Skills
Heritage language education enhances intercultural skills by providing learners with the tools necessary to effectively engage in conversations across cultures. This includes understanding the nuances and cultural implications associated with various expressions and nonverbal communication styles, as well as recognizing culturally appropriate behaviors when interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.
Creating Positive Change
By becoming culturally competent, individuals can create positive change in their community. They can help break down stereotypes and challenge racism while also promoting understanding and respect for different cultures. This can lead to more meaningful intercultural relationships, leading to a more peaceful and harmonious society.
Promote Cultural Competence
As our world becomes increasingly globalized, it is more important than ever to be aware and respectful of other cultures. Heritage language education is one way to promote cultural competence in young people. By definition, heritage languages are those passed down from previous generations within a family. Learning a heritage language not only allows children to connect with their roots but also gives them a competitive edge in an ever-changing job market.If you’re an educator dedicated to teaching language, reach out to us at KidsLipi Inc. and discover how our platform can provide activities and stories that follow your curriculum guidelines while supplying culturally specific content if needed — all with the help of a fun, interactive app! In addition, if you need assistance or have inquiries, we invite you to join our KidsLipi Community, a platform for parents and teachers alike to share resources, stories, and give each other the support they need. Let us show you how KidsLipi enables kids to learn a new language in innovative ways!