Asian American Interviews

What background information would have been helpful prior to your student teaching experience?

Information pertaining to the children’s educational background (whether in their native country or at their current school) would have been helpful. I also began teaching individuals, unaware of their current language development ability. This knowledge would have solved the problems, or should I say delays, of figuring out their level of ability. (EC)

Cultural values and family hierarchies and values. Also the educational background of the parents, i.e. are they literate etc. What was their motivation for being here? Are they in-migrant workers, refugees, etc. (KW)

I feel I could have benefited from a little more cultural awareness training. In my student teaching I worked with Spanish- and Laotian-speaking students. I had some exposure to the Hispanic culture but was totally unaware of the Laotian culture. One thing that was helpful was Human Relations class, however this was half way into student teaching! I could have been helped also by more exposure to various ESL programs and classroom experiences. I felt only partially prepared to reach in an ESL classroom. (AM)

Perhaps information that is not only specific to culture, but also to the region and school district. General information about particular ethnic groups, while sometimes of benefit, can lead to the perpetuation and creation [of] stereotypes. This information would

be best if it could be ascertained from the district a student teacher is entering. (KA)

Were there any behaviors, specific to the culture, that are different from your own (i.e. eye contact, gestures, etc.)?

Overall my Asian American students were less willing than the others, I am not sure that this conclusion I can make because of [their] cultural background. One [student] had a language obstacle and [others] have been "shy" for a number of reasons. (KA)

[When] I worked with 30 Japanese women and they were all quite reluctant to give me any eye contact until I spoke with them about it. I told them it was perfectly acceptable for them to have eye contact with me. (MJ)

Did you find things that could be considered culturally inappropriate?

While there may have been some small differences culturally, I’m not sure I can differentiate them from simply stepping into a classroom for the first time. (KA)

Do you think that student teaching at a Asian American site helped prepare you for future teaching assignments? If so, how?

Yes, I did. It prepared me for a class of monolanguage (native) speakers. I do think it would have been better to have more language backgrounds in one class - it would help me to prepare for difficult situations. (MJ)

I think that this teaching experience has definitely helped me prepare. It has taught me that ESL [English as a Second Language] teaching is a cooperative learning experience in which the students, parents, and teachers all participate in the teaching and learning process. Teaching is more than just language, it is a partnership where both sides share themselves. (AMR)

It helps because it is actual hands-on stuff in an ESL classroom, but a couple of the teachers have not been trained as ESL teachers and the regular classroom teachers and a principal seem very intolerant like they wish these kids would have never shown up and disrupted their lives. (TAS)

I only had a few Asian American students. Any experience outside my own limited world is of a benefit. However, it was more of a benefit to work with them because of their individuality rather that their ethnic background. (KA)

What is missing? Please include any other information that might assist a person preparing to teach at a Asian American site.

I decided not to have my classroom very grammar oriented and have a more relaxed atmosphere. We talked about history, drivers license (study for it), citizenship, and culture. The students didn’t really care for this at first they were frustrated because they felt they weren’t learning anything. [Later on] they found out it really was fun and they did learn something. (MJ)

Go in with an open mind; leave stereotypes at the door because the students will disprove them anyway!

Ask members of the students’ community to help out in your class as interpreters or aids. They bring prior knowledge of the group and act as a bridge between you and your class. They are also great role models!

A great way to help the American students to "adapt" is to have the ESL students or other community members share their culture with them. The children will get along better if they understand where each is coming from. (AMR)

Respect! (KA)

I just think that any person preparing to teach at such a site needs to be sensitive to culturally different people. (EC)

My advice is to be open to change and willing to learn because the teacher learns as much as the students, and that’s the fun of it. That and the students!! (AM)