Cultural Diversity Begins in Elementary School
Dr. Grant D. Moss (Department of Modern Languages and Literatures) andchildren in Gabriela Johnson’s ESOL classroom at Lakeside Elementary
When Mrs. Gabriela Johnson (ESOL teacher at Lakeside Elementary School) and Dr. Grant D. Moss (Assistant Professor of Spanish at Pittsburg State University) met in 2010, they began to work together in order to promote the value of cultural and linguistic diversity among their students.
"The fruits of this partnership took shape in the spring of 2011," says Moss. "This was when I gave a presentation titled 'The Importance of Other Languages' to about forty students at Lakeside Elementary."
Among the participants were JaNell Lopez's first grade class and Mrs. Johnson's ESOL students. Dr. Moss hoped to encourage bilingualism and cultural multiplicity among the children. Although students in both classes received the talk positively, Mrs. Johnson's concern was that the ESOL students did not interact as she thought they should.
"I wanted my students to see it is a good idea to know various languages and be a part of two cultures," she said.
"Her goal," according to Moss, "was for her students-whose ages ranged from five to eleven-to participate more openly with me in both of their languages."
The first initial team effort led to another, more streamlined, activity in February of 2012.
"During the presentation, I focused on 'Les fogueres d'Alacant,'" said Moss. This is a festival celebrated in the Alicante region of Spain each June. "One of the objectives of this dialogue was to encourage ESOL students to build upon their own cultural duality through a discussion of the social, historical, cultural, and linguistic diversity that exists on the Mediterranean coast."
According to Moss, a byproduct of the event was the frank interaction between him and the students during which Moss discussed his extended experience in Spain, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador (the discussion occurred in English, Español, and Valenciá).
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