Teaching Portfolio

Philosophies: Teaching, Administration, and Multiculturalism | Sample Course Syllabi

Multiculturalism Philosophy

I have benefited from the privileges my race, gender, and nationality often garner, and so I feel a strong sense of responsibility to help others gain access to the knowledge and skills they desire to access and succeed in the educational, professional, and societal areas of their choice. The majority of my professional life has been devoted to working with culturally and linguistically diverse learners and their teachers in the United States and abroad. As the dozens of publications, conference papers, invited lectures, workshops, and curricular innovations listed in my curriculum vitae focusing on language and literacy education attest, I am deeply committed to creating a more equitable and just society for all. To this end, I strive to not only help ESOL students in my community learn English as efficiently and effectively as possible, but also to help my native-English speaking pre-service teachers become familiar with the languages and cultures of the students in their K-16 classrooms in order to build a better basis for cross-cultural communication.

At the same time, I challenge all students to consider the theoretical, ethical and practical issues inherent in negotiating difference when interacting with the “Other” in their work in community-based research and writing assignments so that they may become critically engaged participants in the classroom and community. Through action research in classrooms and communities, students not only gain a stronger attitude of compassion for the disenfranchised of society and a greater level of commitment to wanting to work in their communities to help solve social problems, but also a stronger belief that they can make a difference in the lives of others. Fostering this confidence to contribute through studies in diversity and democracy needs to be a larger part of the American educational experience if this country is to maintain its position a global leader: We need more dialogue on difference, and we need to engage in what Paula Mathieu refers to in her book on civic literacy as the Tactics of Hope by discovering and using our “Funds of Knowledge” to create a more inclusive discourse and society for all.

As the child of immigrants, I have also benefited from having parents who inspired in their children a greater interest and understanding of the world. In addition to being raised in the multicultural environs of the San Francisco Bay Area, I have also lived in Japan and Vietnam, and traveled for extended periods of time in nearly a dozen or more countries. I have not only witnessed, but experienced first-hand the challenges of learning a new language and culture. As I argue in the opening chapter of Learning the Language of Global Citizenship, multilingualism is an essential skill for peace and prosperity in the 21st Century. I have worked hard to act upon this belief by learning the languages and cultures of every country I visit, and am proud to have at least attained a basic communicative ability in Spanish, Japanese, and Vietnamese. Having struggled to read and write Japanese as well as to learn a tonal language like Vietnamese after age 40, I believe I have a greater appreciation for the everyday difficulties language minority students face in American classrooms.

Based on my review of the university’s goals and curriculum, and what I know of the demographics of the local community around the university, I believe I will be able to gain from, and contribute to, the college and community in significant ways. I hope you will give me this chance.

Philosophies: Teaching, Administration, and Multiculturalism | Sample Course Syllabi