Culture Identity Diversity: The Challenge of Multicultural Classes

full name / name of organization: 
Daniela D'Eugenio - Graduate Center (CUNY)
contact email: 

45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 3-6, 2014
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Host: Susquehanna University
Deadline: September 30, 2013

This session explores effective ways of integrating different identities in the language class and considers the question of how diversity can successfully contribute to language learning.
Diversity comprises a variety of concepts, ranging from basic ways of communicating to cultural and social behavior. Language instructors need to recognize who they are, as well as who their students are and what they bring to the table, in terms of ethnicity, language, country of origin, and religion. If identity is complex and the result of a multiplicity of aspects, how can instructors succeed in both recognizing the students' identities and promoting their diversity in order to establish a comfortable environment in the classroom?
Instructors should find ways to acknowledge diversity, without assimilating it, to integrate diversity, without stigmatizing it, and to valorize each student's identity as a precious asset in the learning process. Students should be seen not as stereotypical representatives of a cultural group, which only creates a misconception of diversity and an affective filter against students of other ethnicities, but rather as fundamental resources for language and cultural learning, so as to facilitate the learning process and improve language skills.
This session will provide instances of the challenges that instructors face in a diverse teaching environment, in addition to offering practical examples of how to integrate different cultural systems in the lesson plan. It will question how the acts of identifying, describing, and sharing different cultures may lead students to interact inter-culturally with each other and, most importantly, contribute to the learning process.
Please, submit a 250-word abstract to Daniela D'Eugenio, Graduate Center (CUNY) at by September 30, 2013. Please include with your abstract: name and affiliation, email address, A/V requirements.