• Kids

    Key Terms (Al-Issa, 1997):

    • Acculturation: cultural change resulting from direct contact between two cultural groups. Immigrants adapt to cultural change resulting from contact with the dominant group by using one of four strategies:
      • Assimilation: the relinquishing of one’s own ethnic identity and adopting that of the dominant society (e.g., “the melting pot”).
      • Integration: the incorporation of part of the other culture but maintaining one’s own cultural identity. The end result: a multi-cultural society with a number of distinctive ethnic groups within a larger social system.
      • Separation: The ethnic group withdraws from the larger society. Separation can take the form of segregation when imposed by the dominant culture.
      • Marginalization: When the group or individual loses contact with its own culture as well as with that of the culture of the majority and is usually characterized by alienation and loss of identity. (p. 5)


    Key Issues that May Impact the Educational Experience:


    1. People may be arriving in America for a variety of reasons; some of those reasons may be because they are escaping persecution, death or starvation. They may have witnessed the horrors of war, genocide, massacre, ethnic cleansing, and the murder of their family members or friends. These traumas affect an individual (including children) in emotional, physical, and psychological ways.

    2. Children may be separated from their families. Often, not all family members can immigrate at the same time, so the children may be sent ahead of parents; families can be divided for long periods of time. Additionally, immigrants may move through several countries or spend extended periods in refugee camps before arriving at their final destination.

    3. Finally, when immigrants who are well educated and enjoyed middle-class lifestyles in their home countries find themselves struggling to survive because they had to leave all belongings behind, their credentials are not recognized in this country, and language barriers hinder their ability to find employment that pays a reasonable wage this intensifies the feeling of displacement as well as other emotions.

    Cultural Disorientation: 

    • Tasks that are seemingly simple become overwhelming and burdensome due to a lack of background knowledge and familiarity with American culture (e.g., dealing with immigration and immigration laws, health care, finances and banking, public agencies, and education).
    • Immigrants experience the effects of racial boundaries which were developed in the United States hundreds of years ago, and they affect each American socially and psychologically (Carter & Goodwin, 1994 as cited in Goodwin 2002).  They find that they are perceived as, “people of color, other, or minorities” (Goodwin, 2002, p. 164). Immigrants may not be accustomed to these labels and the meaning that it imposes; also, they may not accept these labels.
    • Immigrant children find themselves caught in the middle, between the culture of their ancestors and parents and the dominant U.S. culture that they find themselves immersed in through school. They may begin to feel ashamed of their home culture. However, as they attempt to conform to the American culture, they may face rejection from their classmates because they are perceived as strange or different.



    • There are numerous factors that impact an immigrant’s level of English proficiency:
      • Age at the time of migration.
      • The level of schooling in the home country. This would include the extent to which English was spoken and taught in the school.
      • Previous occupational status and extent of interaction in the U.S. labor force.
      • The language environment in which immigrants settle.
    • Children may be self-conscious about their speech and they may appear to be shy or withdrawn.
    • The language proficiency of the children is the most emphasized aspect of their education. 
    • The issue that educators should be aware of is that language proficiency is much more than an instructional issue:

    ·        Cummins (1984) differentiates between Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) which he states can be obtained in approximately 5 to 9 years, and Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) which can be acquired in approximately 2 years. As the titles suggest, BICS involves ones ability to converse in conversation in social situations while CALP involves a level of language proficiency allowing one to complete academic tasks.

    Issues When Working with Children and Families Who Have Immigrated to America :
      • A common immigration pattern is that a parent from the native country usually arrives in America first. The parent will arrive in America and stay with a relative or friend until financial stability is established; during this time, money, food, and clothing are sent to the children or family members in the native country. * The children are usually separated from their parent for several years; they may have become attached to the temporary primary caregiver and the parent may have missed crucial developmental periods. Consequently, when the child and the parent are reunited, it often results in conflicts around family relationships, communication, and discipline of the child.
      • Families that immigrate to the United States want the best for their children so they may often work multiple jobs in order to secure a future for their children. Due to the time they spend at their jobs, the parents may be unavailable to their children to assist with schoolwork or may find it difficult to make appointments at school.

      • Understanding discipline practices is another area to consider when working with families who have recently immigrated to America . For instance, corporal punishment is a common and traditional way of disciplining children. Literature has cited that oftentimes this is continued in America and it is often labeled as child abuse which school personnel report to Child Protective Services.
    Image taken from Microsoft Clipart
Last Modified on August 22, 2016