Exploring Linguistic, Cultural, and Religious Diversity in Canadian Schools: Pre-Service Teachers’ Learning from Immigrant Parents

Yan Guo

Abstract


The knowledge immigrant parents hold about their children is often unrecognized by Canadian educational systems. Parent knowledge has vital implications for Canadian school systems and for teacher preparation. Based on interviews of parents from 15 countries, this study presented three types of parent knowledge: First language, cultural and religious knowledge. Then, parent knowledge was shared with a group of pre-service teachers. Results reveal some pre-service teachers encouraged the use of students’ first language in their practicum whereas others internalized their monolingual ideology despite multilingual realities. They recognized cultural misunderstanding between immigrant parents and Canadian teachers and systemic racism, and questioned the feasibility of accommodating everyone’s religious needs. The study calls for the reconstruction of difference and the inclusion of epistemological pluralism, particularly immigrant parent knowledge, within teacher education. The study also suggests that it is important to help pre-service teachers shift their representation of multilingualism from being a problem to a resource, challenge their Eurocentric perspectives, understand immigrant students’ cultural backgrounds, and address religious-based exemptions and accommodation.

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