Greater Cultural Diversity and the Need for “Global Competence” (Zhao 2010)

The flow of people leads, of course, to greater cultural diversity within society and schools. While a competitiveness argument pushes achievement to the top of the list of urgent goals, without recognizing the need for teachers to be able to communicate effectively with their students, there is little chance that all children can reach high levels of academic success. Zhao (2010) argues in this moment there is a heightened need for teachers to develop:

the ability to interact effectively with people who speak different languages, believe in different religions, and hold different values has become essential for all workers (Committee for Economic Development [CED], 2006). That is, what used to be required of a small group of individuals—diplomats, translators, cross-cultural communication consultants, or international tour guides—has become necessary for all professions (p. 425).

Teacher education now has, as part of its mission, developing teachers with skills and knowledge that had not been required in the past. The significance of language and culture is clear, and building in opportunities to engage these as areas of study, for which teachers need fluency and deep understanding, is an enormous challenge for programs of initial teacher preparation.

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