Entangled Between ESL-Ness and Poverty: Acculturation of Students in a Grade 3-4 Class
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This qualitative case study investigated how an elementary school shaped the acculturation processes of grade 3-4 immigrant students. It was grounded on John Berry’s model of acculturation strategies which maintains that the existence of multiculturalism in the host society is a necessary condition for the integration of immigrants. Also, Geneva Gay’s conceptualization of culturally responsive teaching was accepted as the analytical framework which represents the actualization of multiculturalism in school settings. The site of the study was an elementary school with a large number of immigrant students in Western Canada. The study used participant observation and interviews as methods of data collection. The audio recording of the classroom sessions for five full weeks, interviews with teachers and students, as well field notes were the sources of data. The analysis of the data showed that there was little evidence of culturally responsive teaching in the classroom. Findings suggest that these grade 3-4 students were receiving an education which is usually typified as the education for working-class children, were detached from their own culture, were taught by a curriculum defined by themes and orientation from Western/mainstream culture, and were experiencing a whole series of disconnected relationships among teachers, parents, and themselves. It was concluded that, despite the powerful multicultural policies at the provincial and school board level, school practices, and teachers’ attitudes were reflecting the melting pot-model of host society in Berry’s model and the process of institutional acculturation favoured assimilation rather than integration.