The Importance of Diversity in the Classroom for International Students

With thousands of international students from all over the world coming to pursue post-secondary education in Canada, classroom diversity—as it pertains to both educators and students—is crucial to ensuring everyone succeeds.

An inclusive classroom is one where everybody feels welcome and encouraged to learn. It’s a place where students feel like they can connect with their peers, and, perhaps even more importantly, with those teaching them.

In this article, we’ll explore the value of cultural diversity in the classroom in detail and discuss the benefits of inclusive teaching. Let’s begin!

The Types of Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

There’s diversity in the term diversity—inclusive teaching means making genuine space for all these differences to ensure everyone feels welcome.

Classroom diversity can include differences in:

  • Race and culture: This refers to ethnicity, language, national origin, and customs
  • Gender identity: This includes sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity
  • Socioeconomic status: This can mean income diversity, educational attainment, occupation, as well as housing security and stability
  • Religious beliefs: This can cover values, practices, and more
  • Age and ability: This can refer to age differences, as well as a student’s physical, mental, and learning capabilities

Inclusive teaching styles and strategies can accommodate each one of these diversity types and help promote a broader worldview in students.

Inclusive learning environments also help teachers and institutions think critically about how to effectively address diversity in the classroom. This includes providing the necessary tools to support international students as they settle into their new lives and having the knowledge to mentor underrepresented students.

Why Supporting Classroom Diversity Matters

Moving to a new country is never easy, especially when you’re doing so with the intent of pursuing an education. It can be intimidating to connect with both your classmates and the educators you’ll be learning from.

Classroom diversity can help, as being surrounded by people from all walks of life makes it easier to feel as if you belong. This is especially true when it comes to educators, and whether or not they can speak to you in your first language.

As such, inclusive teaching impacts several facets of learning:

It Improves Student Performance

All students stand to benefit from learning in an environment where their peers and teachers come from diverse backgrounds, but this is especially true for international students. Cultural diversity in the classroom has been connected to improved concentration and determination, both of which will help produce better learning outcomes.

It Fosters Creativity and Confidence

When surrounded by diverse perspectives, students develop better critical thinking and creativity-based skills. It’s not hard to understand why: it’s harder to express yourself, take risks, and challenge the ideas of others when you feel as if you don’t belong. Diverse classrooms give students the confidence needed to do so.

It Makes Students Feel Safer

Diverse and inclusive learning environments with many cultures represented make everyone feel safer. This is especially true for international students who are trying to adjust to a new country. Classroom diversity doesn’t just facilitate better learning; it facilitates a more comfortable environment for everyone.

 A notebook with three sticky notes, each one has a word written on it: diversity, equality, and inclusion
Image source: Canva

It Creates More Competent Workers

Students who are educated within a diverse classroom have a better mindset upon entering the workforce. Students who graduate from an inclusive learning environment are much more likely to be culturally aware, adaptable, and open-minded toward the different social groups and cultures they’ll meet while at work.

How to Promote Diversity Through Inclusive Teaching

Teachers and their institution’s administrative body play a role in shaping the student’s overall educational experience. From personal growth to academic achievements and the opportunities waiting for them outside campus, the responsibility of guiding students down a successful path is in their educators’ hands.

This is why having diverse educators is just as important—if not even more important—than having a diverse student population. Institutions that hire teachers from diverse cultures can help international students feel more comfortable in the classroom.

These benefits go both ways, as international students will likely find it easier to identify with teachers who come from different backgrounds. If the instructor speaks their first language, they’ll also be able to ask better questions if they feel stuck, thus improving their long-term learning outcomes as they overcome challenges.

Creating an inclusive classroom climate for international students requires educators to think critically about diversity and its impact on education. They need to have inclusive teaching strategies in place to accommodate a cross-cultural classroom and encourage students to offer their perspectives on daily classroom activities.

Ultimately, what’s important for institutions to remember is that you can’t incorporate diversity half-heartedly—classroom diversity has to be part of your mission!

Thrive In Diverse Classrooms and an Inclusive Learning Environment at ILAC

The importance of diversity in the classroom for international students cannot be overstated. They need and deserve an inclusive learning environment where they feel comfortable around their peers and educators—and that’s what ILAC provides.

We are an award-winning language school that teaches English to students looking to succeed in Canada. At both our Toronto and Vancouver campuses, we proudly welcome students from more than 75 countries. We recognize the value of classroom diversity and inclusive teaching; our priority is making students feel comfortable and ready to learn.

Ready to begin learning English? Contact us today to learn more about our programs!

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