This section of this site describes teacher resources for adapting instruction in order to meet the needs of students who may still be developing language skills for completing coursework in an additional developing language, and creates a resource for assessing student confidence cross-culturally in terms of language. Tools for integrating culturally diverse populations of students into the system for community learning are introduced on this page, as well as additional ways to use existing classroom resources and community learning tools available here for instruction while working with culturally diverse audiences.

Table of Contents:

Pre-Assessment and Continuing Assessment Templates for Assessing Differences in Confidence by Linguistic Differentiation

There is a great deal of research in terms of the cross-cultural validity of assessments. In a previous brief report, I had also found problems with construct validity regarding the measure of academic performance in writing, the conclusion stated a need for more research considering whether or not automated scoring and testing systems were properly able to grade English writing using a computer-based grammar parsing system (Hixson, 2015). Further research indicates that in terms of cultural and linguistic diversity (CLD) measures, more well-studied assessment instruments such as the WAIS-III Intelligence Test, indicated a wide range of reports that varied according to culture and language stratifications and a correlation was made between lower scores on the instrument and CLD boundaries (Shuttleworth-Edwards Et. Al., 2004).

Culture is not only language, there are differences in terms of the way in which community members in diverse cultures view their self-identities and sense of accomplishment. CLD students may, in many ways; need support for additional cultural values, norms, and customs that can change the student's perception of accomplishment according to factors represented by social identity. Holleran & Jung (2005) in a qualitative measure stipulated that they believed acculturative stress may have an influence on factors such as achievement in the western cultural context as well as the sense of meaning and personal affiliation with society. The implications of the case studies were that having cultural rites and customs not be recognized as a part of a safe learning environment or workplace setting, create an expectation that some youth may choose to deviate from a path of academic achievement in favor of the affiliation needs which can be met among peers who are a part of the social or ethnic groups whose rites and customs are not otherwise practiced. The summary was that rites of passage and customs that were a part of the cultural environment of homogenous social groups by ethnicity or by creed were missing from the social settings offered by American education, and that the acculturative stress created by this could be related to the choices related to poor academic performance and higher drop-out rates from schools among youth who are vulnerable to this stressor.

To begin addressing this properly I needed a way to adapt an existing system to identify students who may benefit from CLD instruction, and also create a way to receive proper feedback and to create an environment for CLD instruction that could measure the difference between language and cultural barriers and data related to the content area being taught as well as overall academic performance according to established rubrics. Therefore, it made sense to modify the Likert-scale based confidence inventory templates that I had designed and adapt them to two languages in order to measure confidence in content area knowledge in both the home language and the expected language. Keep in mind of course that some brief in-person or survey question may be necessary to find out how the students best prefer to speak and which language(s) are the most familiar. This way, as language skills may differ it is possible to score directly the student performance variations that can exist according to the variance related to language, and also measure how well students go about learning the expected language as the learning groups themselves become more proficient with the expected content while integrating new language and language acquisition skills during study. This works as a statistic because the confidence in both languages would then go from more varied between languages to less varied between languages and then be measured operationally with a Pearson r= statistic.

The Likert-scale inventory is also used in another system of assessment for the complete introduction to modern culture course template system available on this site as well as the blank templates that can also be used to score this new template adapted for CLD instruction. Each template can be filled out in two languages using an available computerized translator such as or by working directly with teachers who understand each language in each set of assessments. Though the forms only measure two languages at once, the languages themselves can be selected as required by each instructor. The same scoring sheet and system for grading rubrics is then used for the modified templates and lesson plan.

The short answer questions are then simply repeated in both languages to reveal and resolve complications in the cognitive understanding of the questions, as they may exist, and can be addressed during one-to-one feedback time with students.




Educators who study CLD instruction know that there is a difference between meeting the needs of students in terms of adapting to new culture or language in skills that are similar to a student's existing skill set, even if in a second language, and attempting to present new course content that is not similar to the student's known skill set (Herrera & Murry, 2011). The process of scaffolding often refers to creating supports for new learning to take place and new cognitive associations to be made between existing skills and the understanding new skills either through accommodating the new skills by creating an entirely new epistemology for the skills or by assimilating the new skills into a known process for cognitive understanding related to a specific set of tasks to complete, which is a process that instructors can facilitate by asking selective questions or closely guiding student inquiry, in a way that expects students to have the optimal source of challenge needed for learning as was described by Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development(Bruning, Schraw & Ronning, 1999). Instruction may also benefit the instructor by maintaining a source of challenge for professional development while learning to provide scaffolding that supports CLD student groups.

Visual elements can often help students to support transitioning language skills as I had found while developing a program for public disaster preparedness education. As with language cards and electronic translators for speech or writing, having visual elements that can be recognized in more than one language may help to demonstrate to students their ability to adapt the knowledge of a subject from one language to the other. Though the visual elements may seem very simple and well known in some contexts, this also allows a teacher to begin introducing the language that the course assignments are expected in, by explaining that the language may differ even if the semantic knowledge of a subject may not vary as widely. Attached here is a visual element I'd borrowed from one of the instructors I had been collaborating with, with English and Spanish titles, that can help as an example of a visual aid to use for explaining this process as a part of a scaffolding approach. This is the same as language cards which can be purchased online for instructors.

In order to properly scaffold instruction, some average or mean assessment of the student population regarding the phase of language acquisition that can be expected from the student population must be known. There are considered to be five stages of language fluency that could be present for each individual student and on average be present for each learning group:

  • Early Production: Students begin learning basic vocabulary and applying it to the central learning theme and environment
  • Speech Emergence: Students may begin using the expected language as it differs from the home language and interpreting basic central meaning between each using some newly learned vocabulary.
  • Intermediate Fluency: Individuals in the learning groups begin producing deliverables using the expected language with some knowledge of expected grammar and standards for formatting and comprehension.
  • Advanced Fluency: Deliverables that are written or spoken in the expected language are as confidently understood as the home language, with increased complexity and a strong familiarity with grammar or expected standard writing formats, spoken inflection, tone and structured speech.

As the reader may be able to see, the idea presented is to teach content knowledge while also teaching language, in a way that can measure student progress from early production stages to advanced fluency stages, by centralizing the main themes of the content knowledge with two languages so that the student can support and develop language acquisition skills. The best way to establish the proficiency of the overall class can be to use a combination of averaged formative assessments and observations while interacting with students stratified by the given varied age ranges and also proficiency levels expected for each class.

Plate I. Basic Community-Learning Introduction and Centralized Visual Theme (ARC, n.d.).


Community Learning Adapted for Cross-Cultural Relevance and Community Workplace Integration

As I gained experience in the study of human motivation in terms of what it is that motivates students, workers, and other stakeholders to accomplish tasks which may or may not be directly for immediate personal gain; or to accomplish tasks that have a perceived risk of failure according to both Bernard Weiner's (Et Al.) Attribution theory, and Social Cognitive Theory such as Albert Bandura's life-long research related to motivation, I also learned of two people Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankl. These two pioneering psychologists wanted to know mainly at first, the conditions which might exist that create the differences between people who struggle with resilience and possibly lose hope in the face of adversity, and people who tend to motivate themselves to empower others and create unity and social identity as a sense of belonging to the larger life-contexts and social groups. This is a generalization of the kinds of research which can still be found in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology that was founded by the theories created from this pioneering research, and continues to develop socially relevant solutions to a wide range of social problems and therapies that can reduce human suffering, and help to understand accomplishment in many social contexts worldwide. Koltko-Rivera (2006), created the best synopsis of Maslow's realization of the shift which may occur for people who internalize the intrinsic desire to learn and grow and to develop as a part of creating success within the larger life contexts, that individuals might inhabit, by contributing to the empowerment of the larger community and the development of social values that are benevolent and sometimes inspire social change and leadership among these communities.

In the manuscript that I wrote (Hixson, In Press), and am still refining and seeking a way to publish, I synthesized this researched briefly; this was by also indicating successes for the theory in other social spaces, that people who deal with high levels of distress and risk in their occupations inhabited, and also then became the motivated by the ideas represented by Maslow's archetype Being-Cognition. These were studies like one that indicated statistics from people who as a correlation with connection to meaning in the larger community; were able to find ways to heal faster from difficult experiences, and be able to reduce the suffering experienced from high levels of duress, while mitigating symptoms resulting from extended stress (Osran, Smee, Weinberger & Sreenivisan, 2010). This approach is difficult to master because it takes the relevant information from more extreme life-contexts that require distress tolerance and an internal desire to achieve, survive, strive, improve, and learn, and then links the theory of motivation for contexts where individuals may only be struggling to meet expectations in sometimes high-stakes learning environments. Though these are environments that can render outcomes that are long-term for students in terms of employment, which we as educators seek to operationalize measures of success in and develop frameworks for consistent and equal empowerment through learning. Maslow (1974), stipulated in his contrast between Deficiency-Need cognition and Being-Cognition that people who had discovered the sense of well being in the larger life-context had often done so through experiences that created a sense of risk and then successful connection with the larger community as a whole.

Also, Herrera & Murry (2011), indicated the need for students to be able to practice and integrate language acquisition and other skills for cultural adaptation, in a way that provided adequate safe supports and scaffolding, while also being relevant to the student's current skills and intended outcomes. At the Jefferson County Open School in 2014 one of the things that a Non-Government Organization group that I had assisted for a period of time was able to do for students learning the French Language, was to provide a practical skills extended field trip from the USA to Paris, France. This created an environment for testing skills, but was not necessarily a focused community learning opportunity.

Creating opportunities for CLD students to work in groups of at least three same-home-language team-members, and accomplishing work in the community as interns or volunteers in the expected language, provides a chance to test and integrate the skills taught in the given content area while also relying on each other to develop and support the tasks being accomplished while adapting to the surrounding culture. Community learning can provide a rich experience for students to be able to develop knowledge related to a course standard, but also life-long skills for problem-solving, distress tolerance, mitigating acculturative stress, and continuing language development. It also provides a chance for perceived risk of failure and a source of challenge for deep learning.

It is therefore advisable to coach students to mastery by expecting the completion of some community learning task, in a way that perhaps blends teams who are more or less proficient in each of the languages expected by the learning community, which can also help to increase cultural awareness and sensitivity skill building for non-CLD students.

The result of this discovery enabled me as a teaching coach to begin developing a way for volunteers in the humanitarian relief community to reduce overall social vulnerability in the larger community by learning to be more aware of cultural and linguistic diversity and working directly across cross-cultural groups and to become more confident in providing public disaster preparedness and mitigation resources, among all social groups equally as a part of social learning; and also to become intrinsically motivated by affiliation with the cause for reducing human suffering by empowering and mobilizing a volunteer workforce through the generosity of donors and the continuing engagement and development of greater practical skills, cultural awareness, experience, and expertise.


1-to-1 Similar skills instruction

This section deals with working directly with CLD students and adapting skills from other related fields that focus on interpersonal effectiveness in order to maintain a positive rapport with all students. This applies to any student population, the only difference for CLD students is that it may be necessary to understand the larger cultural context that the student may inhabit and to focus on how success is perceived by the student.

Students in general in the western context and also some eastern contexts such as in Japan and Korea, face extremely high stakes where academic performance is demanded but yet measured by large-scale testing systems and rubrics that do not adapt so well to individual situations. This creates a conflict and potential crisis between the student's expectations for success and the assessments created to measure knowledge. Some adaptation can be made between skills for crisis intervention and communicating with students about academic performance. This also allows the educator a way to facilitate communication between languages with any of electronic tools, interpreters, or language cards and visual materials designed to facilitate better communication. Students work to achieve according to rubrics and all do require some one-to-one awareness and support from the school community as a whole. Roberts & Yeager (2012), create a system that relies on microskills for listening and establishing basic communication, trust, and rapport and also facilitates some way to assess the future success for individuals who may deal with distress and create a plan for building a way out of crisis and into recovery and then eventual achievement. Sublimating an emergency or crisis with the stress that exists for students and parents who are aware of the high-stakes nature of quality education and struggle against meeting specific academic requirements or assessments, is one way to begin building trust as the educator facilitates success against a set of rubrics and no conflict then exists between the instructor and any other stakeholders directly.

Maintaining and continually developing skills for adapting to meet the needs of each individual student through an awareness of skills related to coaching and communicating for problem-solving is the best way to facilitate learning for all students who may also be adapting to the greater awareness of multiple or diverse cultural representations within each class.


Learning Environment / Community Learning Cultural Environment

Creating optimally-distinctive environments for learning is the goal of expertise in teaching. Overall the leading research related to classrooms creates blended-learning environments with the same tools and techniques designed to facilitate communication among executives and professionals in the global milieu. Telepresence, 21st-century skills, flipped instruction, and blended learning are adaptations of communication systems designed for international business. This is very useful because the objective of a successful education is for students to be able to enter the workforce in the way that is chosen by students upon self-reflection and evaluation related to the skills gained throughout academic training.

One thing to be sure to emphasize in any group setting is that it is alright to be the person who learns from the rest of the group, the role of self-enhancement in the classroom is minimal, and overall creating communities of inquiry that are socially and cognitively engaging was found to increase motivation and self esteem. Communities of Inquiry learning then helps to teach students to motivate learning through contributions to the larger group, and through social and cognitive interaction with peers, who are also taught to achieve through contributing to the success of the larger group (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009). When social and cognitive engagement are modeled and facilitated by the instructor through team building and discussion, self-regulated groups of students can form and begin to construct communal epistemologies in the expected content area for the acquisition of knowledge and the development of peer-directed independent study an research (Shea & Bidjerano 2010).

Optimal learning environments foster group interaction and social activity, that also builds social capital through the recognition of common success and individuals who contribute to the learning of the larger group, this creates socially relevant meaning for studying as an activity and also facilitates the shift for students to be motivated not just from external expectations but the independent desire to contribute relevant knowledge and demonstrate competent skills.

Safe spaces for CLD students ask instructors to begin helping to facilitate communication among all students, even if sometimes there are more than two languages or cultures represented in the learning group. To help with this, it may be necessary to run confidence inventories in each language that students are most comfortable in, customized for each student only by changing the language of half of the inventory as mentioned in the first section of this page.


The Brain Breakdown: How Language Processes Cognitively, And Why it Matters to Know

The best way to accommodate knowledge of neurophysiology as a part of understanding language acquisition is through syllogism. Neurons and ideas are not independent, and often function as mutual networks that develop as a person's brain becomes more sensitized to processing the relevant information, and also the capability to encode and decode the communication of this information. Joseph Zinker (1977), in Gestalt psychology understood that creating a way to resolve learning about this complex knowledge only required an awareness of basic human physiology and metabolism; Zinker established that motivation and learning were cyclical related processes and created stages for the process called sensation, awareness, mobilization, contact, and resolution phases. This was in line with some of William James' discourses at the time. Zinker (1977), described a dynamic between the sudden onset of awareness that some new skill need be acquired or some new learning needed to happen, he said that the onset of the process was much like metabolism as people seek to metabolize food and water for survival people also seek knowledge that provides for greater success in terms of mitigating the environment and meeting human needs. Overall as a textbook definition of the interpretation of symbols, sounds, and other constructs of language; Garrett (2011), describes the neurological links between dorsal and ventral streams of sensations signaled by specialized nerve cells that learned to reflect the precise sensory information (such as color or tone) and then synthesize it through the connection between episodic and semantic (memory) experience, which is then synthesized and remembered as a series of associations or ideas, and that can then be re-communicated using skills for constructing language. Languages also involve areas that also include sensorimotor skills for forming speech and writing and also the other executive functions related to encoding information and memory recall (Herrera & Murry, 2011)

As time has gone on in the research of neurology, these skills for connecting sensations and experiences, remembering them, and then continually processing and building upon them; is also being discovered as a function related to skills for coping under duress, adaptation, and facilitating overall well-being. Referring again to the previous citation of psychology used for the understanding and prevention of symptoms related to psychiatric maladaptation, there have been Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests related to a network of neurons and structures in the brain called the default mode network or the default network that involved the genesis of coping strategies as they develop nerve cells in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) and along the dorsal and ventral streams that process and recall experience, and also in terms of the improvement of nerve cell densities in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain; this network is thought to house executive functions, cognizance, and aspects of self reliance and self-control related to successful functioning in social space and achievement in the overall greater life-context. Many times clinicians have found greater development in these areas of the brain to counter-indicate psychological disorder and to be capable of inversely predicting the onset of symptoms arising from post-traumatic stress and trauma (Weber Et. Al., 2013).

As we know that the development of language is an adaptation to social space and improved functioning as a part of social interaction and social learning uses the same centers of the brain that are in the pathways of the default network mentioned, teaching students to be able to adapt to unfamiliar situations, languages, and cultures; may also if adequately supported and scaffolded at the appropriate skill level, be capable of teaching greater skills for adaptation resilience and distress tolerance. This resource is created with any of two languages in mind and from a perspective that is socially relevant relativistically for each population and cultural milieu adapting to new cultures and languages.

There are a few techniques that involve facilitating this connection between dorsal and ventral streams, or the sensation of a need to learn and the cognitive skills for acquiring language and adapting to new content areas

  • CALLA (Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach)
  • SLA (Sheltering Instruction for Language Acquisition)
  • Integrated Instruction (Community-Directed Learning and Theme-Based Constructivism)

In a useful resource for describing the executive-level techniques for teaching among CLD populations, Herrera & Murray describe the CALLA approach as a way of beginning instruction by connecting vocabulary and meaning cognitively with the expected content of the course as described in the section related to neurophysiology above, the text also described the process of facilitating sheltered instruction that can focus on providing specific students with focused reciprocal feedback in multiple languages in order to facilitate the same level of linguistic understanding available for students in the expected language, that is a process of intentional instructor support using the technique. Herrera & Murry (2011), synthesized a text that also discusses providing and connecting central themes and visual elements for the understanding of content knowledge and outcomes, in an integral way; that can help provide the cognizant linkage of vocabulary and language skills, and expected content area knowledge respectively, through associative connection of thematically related skills and activities that create learning by inference. Some specific strategies and best practices work best for some instructors and still not others, and so I would recommend obtaining a resource that describes in detail these foundations for understanding CLD instruction that can be referenced while planning lessons, and I would also note that it is very necessary to maintain positive rapport with students who can benefit from CLD strategies, even if by using simple tools such as electronic translators or language cards to begin teaching with each class group within each community as an activity for facilitating communication.


Building an Effective Platform for Culture, Language Acquisition, and Cross-Cultural Validity



ARC. (n.d.). In-Home Fire Prevention Visit Training 1.0 (Obsoleted by new versions). Disaster Cycle Services: American Red Cross.

Hererra, S. G., & Murray, K. (2011). Matering ESL and bilingual methods (2nd Ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Hixson, S. (2015, October 11). Critical thinking application II: Standardized test report card [Course deliverable for a course on evaluation and assessment OTL-541K]. School of Education, Colorado State University Global Campus.

Hixson, S. (In Press). Meaningful Learning [Capstone Manuscript]. School of Education, Colorado State University Global Campus.

HOLLERAN, L. & JUNG, S. (2005). Acculturative stress, violence, and resilience in the lives of Mexican-American youth. Stress, Trauma and Crisis, 8(2-3), 107-130.

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Shuttleworth, A. B., Kemp, R. D., Rust, A. L., Muirhead, J., Nigel, H. & Radloff, S. (2004). Cross-cultural effects on IQ test performance: A review and preliminary normative indications on WAIS-III test performance. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 24(7), 903-920.

Weber, M., Killgore, W. D. S., Rosso, I. M., Britton, J. C., Schwab, Z. J., Weiner, M. R., & Rauch, S. L. (2013). Voxel-based morphometric gray matter correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 27(4), 413-419. DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.04.004

ZINKER, J. (1977). Creative process in Gestalt therapy. New York, NY: Vintage.