Culture and Language Identity

Policy 1.11 Cultural Diversity and Language

Culture refers to worldviews, ideologies, knowledge systems, beliefs, customs, understandings and languages that are acquired by individuals as members of cultural groups. Culture and language are deeply connected to individuals’ identities. Language is a crucial medium through which culture is expressed and transmitted.


Culturally Responsive Teaching

Resource Type: Print

Resources related to culturally responsive teaching are available for borrowing at the Emma Stewart Resources Centre. This bibliography provides an annotated list of print and media resources to support your own learning and your classroom practice on topics such as:

  • Multicultural education and educational equity
  • Culturally and linguistically responsive teaching and learning
  • Building on students’ social and cultural resources
  • Strategies and approaches for culturally responsive teaching
  • Culturally responsive and socially just classrooms (learning environment, parent and community involvement)
  • Rethinking classroom management
  • Linguistically and culturally responsive school leadership

EAL/ESL/English Language Learners: Resources to Help You Meet Their Needs

Resource Type: Print

Resources related to supporting English language learners are available for borrowing at the Emma Stewart Resources Centre. This bibliography provides an annotated list of print and media resources to support your own learning and your classroom practice on topics such as:

  • Second language acquisition and learning – understanding second language development
  • Differentiating instruction and assessment for EAL learners
  • Best practices and classroom strategies for teaching EAL learners
  • Literacy instruction; developing reading and listening comprehension
  • Connecting content and academic language – teaching for academic success
  • Teaching vocabulary
  • Picture dictionaries
  • Supporting refugee and immigrant children
  • Engaging families of EAL learners

Teaching Immigrant and Refugee Students

Resource Type: Print

Resources related to understanding and teaching immigrant and refugee students are available for borrowing at the Emma Stewart Resources Centre. This bibliography provides an annotated list of print and media resources to support your own learning and your classroom practice on topics such as:

  • Children of war
  • Refugees – the journeys of children and families forced to flee their home country; impact of interrupted formal education
  • Immigration and the experience of immigrant families and groups in Canada (e.g., Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, Chinese, Irish, Japanese, Caribbean, Eastern European, African)
  • Racist historical immigration policies
  • Culturally responsive school and classroom practices to support newcomer and refugee students and their families
  • Connecting with immigrant communities
  • Equity issues affecting immigrant and refugee students and families

Note: Resources from the McDowell Foundation are currently unavailable due to website maintenance. 

Exploring Refugee Children’s Pre- and Post-Migration Educational Experiences; Dr. Christine Massing, Dr. Daniel Kikulwe, and Katerina Nakutnyy

Resource Type: Print, Website

The ongoing war in Syria has led to the recent migration of comparatively large numbers of refugee children and families to Canada. The overall purpose of this study is to examine refugee children’s complex and varied educational experiences in Syria, in transition countries, and in elementary schools in Saskatchewan from their own points of view as well as from the perspectives of their parents and current teachers. In addition, the research aims to identify the assets or funds of knowledge that these children have developed through their educational experiences in each context and how these resources might be mobilized in the form of supports, strategies and approaches to enhance the learning of refugee children in Saskatchewan public schools.

Moving into the 21st Century with Second-Language Learning: iParle français; Dana Sanders and Tina Anderson

Resource Type: Print, Website

The goal of this research was to use innovative ways to address fossilized errors in French immersion classrooms or errors that occur in oral language because of the influence of the first language (in this case primarily English). IPads were used to both help with student engagement in oral learning and to provide a tool to address the ongoing fossilized errors that were the focus of the research. However, the researchers found that while the apps used on the iPads were useful as supports, the idea of an app became a metaphor for how the classroom learning was structured. A number of teaching strategies were utilized to enhance classroom instruction including a focus on culture, training, visual, feedback, framework, mini-lessons, conversation and an overall strategy. A strong focus on oral French and addressing common errors as a class in positive ways resulted in significant reduction in fossilized errors.

Revitalizing Nêhiyawewin: Our Language, Stories and Perspectives; Gail Mackay, Linda Wason-Ellam, Darlene Arcand, Pamela Fosseneuve, Coreen Sakebow, and Dwayne Swiftwolfe

Resource Type: Print, Website

This research project aims to explore the development of storytelling curricula grounded in Nêhiyaw language and knowledge at a school in Saskatoon. Working with visiting Elders who are story keepers, Cree immersion speakers in grades 1 to 3 will listen to Elder stories and participate in a number of oral language storying activities in Cree. Indigenous storytelling for young learners is a pedagogical springboard for holistic learning, concept building and experiential learning. The research will explore the impact on both students and their teachers.

Strengthening Schools to Support Syrian Refugees During the Pandemic; Kirsten Cavanaugh and Dr. Janet Okoko

Resource Type: Print, Website

Strong relationships between families and schools must take place to support our learners. Never have these co-operative relations been as important as they are during COVID-19, when our students were expected to attend to learning with the help of their parents. As a country and province we have seen an increasing number of refugee families in recent years.

Recently arrived refugee children face many challenges when adapting to their new country and schools along with their parents who may be looking for work, attempting to learn English and adapting to different cultural norms. For these families, the lack of familiarity with the Canadian school system and implicit expectations and norms can be a struggle. Without strong in-school supports, these children are at risk of failing socially or academically. The purpose of this project is to understand the refugee experience with at-home learning to strengthen our supports for student success.

By speaking with the families directly, educators can understand the barriers and are better able to provide avenues for support. Positive relationships between school personnel and parents are critical to a refugee child’s school-related successes, and to their broader relationships with the community. The findings and recommendations will bridge gaps and ensure strong stakeholder relationships are maintained.

Using Teacher Collaboration in an Islamic Faith-Based School to Nurture Student and Staff Sense of Belonging; Kari Krug

Resource Type: Print, Website

As Saskatchewan classrooms become increasingly diverse it is essential that teachers become more culturally aware. This project is an investigation into how teacher collaboration can be used to nurture student and staff sense of belonging in an Islamic faith-based school. Collaboration is a method that includes teachers working together as equals to help students achieve success. Two pairs will be formed, each with one Muslim teacher and one non-Muslim teacher, to find ways to collaborate and to have meaningful conversations to benefit student sense of belonging. These teachers will work to build strong collaborative relationships in hope that this will model positive Muslim and non-Muslim relationships for staff, students, and community members.

Using Traditional Aboriginal Teachings and the Leader in Me (7 Habits) Concept to Improve Communication and Technology Skills in the Nêhiyawewin Cree Language and Culture Program; Norine Tourangeau, Sheila Kennedy, and Lesley Walters

Resource Type: Print, Website

How can we incorporate technology as a way to improve students’ communication skills in a Cree classroom using Traditional Aboriginal Teachings and the Leader in Me concept?

This study will include Aboriginal pedagogy such as the sharing circle and interviews to collect data from Elders, traditional knowledge keepers, community resource members, parents, students and teachers. Their experiences will be valuable to highlighting the importance of Traditional Aboriginal Teachings. In doing so, interviews will allow the teacher-researchers to talk to, discuss one-on-one and on an individual basis, ways to improve educational practice.

This collaborative research effort will provide examples of Cree instructional practices. Lastly, it is our hope that the findings will serve as a constant reminder that the work of Cree language retention is far from over and that there is much work to be done in this area.

Learning Opportunities

To see what workshops are currently scheduled, please visit the Events Calendar.

Differentiating Instruction and Assessment to Support Middle Years and Secondary EAL Students

Format: Full-day face-to-face session.

Investigate how educators can support middle years and secondary EAL students in developing English language proficiency while engaging with grade-level outcomes and expectations and explore how these students can demonstrate their understanding of grade-level outcomes at their benchmark levels.

  • Surface and address common misconceptions about second language acquisition.
  • Investigate the potential uses of the Global Data Wall and the Common Framework of Reference (CFR) rubrics to support and guide work with EAL students.
  • Identify the types of learning experiences and strategies that are most effective for EAL students.

Let’s Talk: Supporting Diverse Language Learners in the Early Years

Format: Full-day face-to-face session or half-day virtual sessions

Let’s Talk! This interactive workshop, focused on language diverse learners, offers opportunities for educators to develop deeper understanding of early childhood language development and strategies to support language growth within the structures and routines of an early years classroom. This day will also offer practical, authentic methods to intervene and support language development for diverse early learners and their families.

  • Explore typical language development stages, leveraging language one to support language two and language development on the spectrum.
  • Examine how language needs can be intentionally supported through the structures and supports embedded in the early learning environment.
  • Examine your role as facilitator of language development and growth.
  • Explore ways to authentically connect and partner with families and to offer support and access to resources and professionals when needed.

Supporting EAL Students: Foundational Understandings and Practical Approaches

Format: Full-day face-to-face session or virtual convention sessions of 2-3 hours.

As EAL students are welcomed into classrooms, teachers are called to support their acquisition of an additional language within the framework of grade-appropriate curricula.

  • Develop foundational understanding of how students acquire an additional language, including the time frame and progression of skills.
  • Gain practical instructional and assessment strategies that support EAL students in their language acquisition as they engage with grade-level outcomes.

Networking Opportunities

Under development.