STAGES OF ACCULTURATION
• Imagine leaving your home, your friends, and familiar surrounding and coming to a new country. At first, you might be happy
with the adventure. However, this happiness would probably fade when you were surrounded by strangers who speak a
language you don’t understand in a school were expectations are totally different. You miss familiar food, sights, smells, and
friends. Many ELLs go through this process of Stages of Acculturation.
• The happiness of the honeymoon stage may be followed by depression, anger, sadness, called culture shock. ELLs may sleep
a lot, cry, lash out in anger, or even have frequent illnesses.
• Eventually, this too will pass and the student will begin to accept the new life.
HOW CAN AN ELL’s CULTURE IMPACT LEARNING?
A student’s culture and language
In some cultures, it is disrespectful
to look into someone’s eyes. It
may be disrespectful to call a
teacher by name. “Teacher” is the
respectful way to address a
teacher in some countries.
Different cultures have different
ideas about “personal space” or
about being touched or working
with members of the opposite
sex. Some have religious food
restrictions or fast (Ramadan).
Some cultures value cooperation
over competition, so students may
“share” their work or answers on
tests. This shows generosity and
helpfulness in their culture.
Some cultures value “teacher led”
classrooms and teachers are
revered as providers of
knowledge. In these cultures,
students are not encouraged to
question the teacher. Students
may be confused by our student centered
classrooms where they
are expected to express their
Some cultures place great
value on the family and family
traditions. Missing school to
care for siblings is not
The concept of time is not
universal. Punctuality is a
Some parents don’t get
involved in school: it wasn’t
done in their home country
and they don’t know the
Culture impacts reading and
writing: some cultures relate
stories metaphorically. Some
write indirectly, very
different from our direct
Teach American culture: what is
acceptable and what is not!
Be careful not to stereotype
Involve parents in school: invite
parents to speak on their
country, attend meetings,
What can you do? Be sensitive. Let the student know you understand!