Term Paper: Struggle of Asian ESL Students

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Asian ESL Students

Asian Studies

The Struggle of Asian ESL Students

The purpose of this work is to focus on the Asian ESL students, both high school and college age and the struggle which they face in adapting to the American way of learning. Examined will be the difference in cultural and family values, the difference in the teacher and students roles; the difference of respect for the instructor, tutor, or school authority; the difference in language and grammar as well as the difference in the pop culture. Finally the effect these factors have on the Asian Student will be examined and suggestions will be made based on the literature review as to what the American schools and instructors might do to lessen the burden of the transition.

Introduction:

As Asian students arrive at their destination of college or high school, must anticipation and anxiety is evident. However, these emotions need not dictate the outcome of the student's academic experience. Over the past decade, many resources have been made available to students coming to study in the U.S. One of the greatest obstacles Asian students face is in the area of cultural/family values and differences. School in the U.S. are becoming more adept to the needs of a diverse classroom and significant improvements are seen in the areas of cultural competence: the ability to provide services effectively to people of all cultures, races, ethnic backgrounds, and religions in a way that recognizes, values, affirms, and respects the worth of individuals and protects and preserves their dignity (Philips 1996). Students need academic professionals to understand how to respond "respectfully and effectively to people of different cultural backgrounds" (Philips 1996). Many areas of the United States have seen a rise in the school-age Asian-American population in recent years. In fact this group of students is one of the fastest growing in count particularly in California where 10.2% of all students K-12 are Asian-American and are stated be larger in number than even the population of the African-American students. Fifty percent of Asian youth are from homes where there is another primary language spoken other than that of English. Over one million Southeast Asian refugees have come to the United States since 1975. The largest group of these came just following the Indochinese War and now the second generation of the Asian refugee immigrants is enrolled in school. The Asian population was stated to be the total of 7,272,662 in the year 1990 and this group has become the fastest growing minority group in the United States. (U.S. Census Bureau 1990) Acculturation has associated stress which effects the psychological and academic functioning of the student and is generally not effectively addressed by school personnel. (Liu, 1995)

I. Acculturation of the Asian Individual:

Bronfenbrenner (1979) held that when psychologically evaluation is performed in relation to the functioning of a student in relation to the students:

Mesosystem: Immediate and extended family, neighborhood, school, and other networks.

Macrosystem: Community or culture; and Exosystem: Society and social structures

When there are conflicts of a cultural nature and abrasiveness within or among the mesosystem, macrosystem and exosystem, which are linked closely the effects upon the 'microsystem' or the student may be of a detrimental nature. Furthermore the systems are of an ever-changing nature. Bronfenbrenner (1979)

II. Sociocultural Elements:

The cultural difference between that of the United States and the Asian student upbringing is different in terms of value, language, religion as well as other factors. Acculturation rates often differ in the Asian families particularly between the teens and their parents which creates abrasion among family members and this is often added to the fact that the pre-settlement and post-settlement trauma have strongly effected their psychosocial in adjustment (Champion 1989) the differences noted by psychologists between the culture of the United States and that of the Asian culture is the tendency for the U.S. culture in emphasizing competitiveness, individualist values and the attitude of "living for the moment" (Nilchaikovit et al. 1993) whereas the Asian culture places value in hard-work, self-discipline, respect for those in positions of authority. Other differences are expressed in self-concept and self-other patterning in relationships. (Li et al. 1993) Countries from which the Asian groups come are Vietnam, Cambodia, Laotia, Hmong and Southeast Asia. There exists a variation among the individuals from these countries in relation to ethnicity, as well as their social and cultural assimilation into the society of the U.S. There exists difference within difference due to the fact that marriage between member of these groups result in ethnic blends both culturally and socially (Pang 1990) a factor that must be greatly considered when assessing students due to the differences among the Asian cultures.

One cultural difference that is noted is that there exist within the Asian family a great measure of inequality between the male and female offspring in the family. Male offspring are highly valued above the females because of their status of family-heir and this has been the cultural nature of the Asian peoples for many thousands of years. This leads many times to rebellion on the part of the Asian female student because she can see her peers leading a lifestyle with much more freedom than she has experienced. Another factor is that even after having migrated to the United States there is still in existence a societal hierarchy among the Asian individuals. The male family member who perhaps had held prestigious positions in the native country no longer are able to do so due to their lack of proficiency in the English language. Students from these homes tend to have a higher degree of difficulty in acculturation due to the fact that the husband and father of the family cannot find work and has adopted a lifestyle of drinking thus becoming abusive to the family. The Asian immigrant parent hold the value of education very high in their belief-system and emphasis on the education of their children is to such an extent that often the student is propelled through rebellion in the opposite direction. (Wagatsuma et al. 1984) Other classes of Asians from the poorer class may desire that their child achieve an education but are not knowledgeable as to the necessary adjustments in the home such as a quiet place for the student to study or retaining tutors if needed.

III. Facts the School Must Know:

Confucianism defines specific rules of conduct in social relationships and places great importance on the family, of which Philips (1996) explains several key concepts that follow from the principle of filial piety:

Family roles are highly structured, hierarchical, male-dominated, and paternally oriented. (This leads to the need for a two-fold teaching understanding and student obstacle as some students will seek the familiarity of that setting and others will seek anything that is different from what they already live.)

The welfare and integrity of the family are of great importance. The individual is expected to submerge or repress emotions, desires, behaviors, and individual goals to further the family welfare and to maintain its reputation. The individual is obligated to save face so as to not bring shame onto the family. The incentive, therefore, is to keep problems within the family. (in this statement, Philips refers to the strength that is stereotypically seen in Asians.)

Interdependency is valued and stems from the strong sense of obligation to the family... influences relationships among family members who provides support and assistance for each individual member... individual members provide support and assistance for the entire family. These relationships, interactions, and obligations are lifelong; the goal of individual members is not necessarily autonomy and independence. (Teachers will see most Asian students are dedicated and will do well if the academic environment is encouraging.)

The individual's level of acculturation must be considered and that variable applied in options of treatment (Sue 1981). Intervention cannot be effective or successful with having gained a thorough grasp of the cultural factors as well as the generational abrasisions within the life of the student.

III. Recommendations Practices for Interaction:

The following have been given as recommended practices in interaction with the Asian student:

Recognize the diversity of the ethical and cultural identities of the Southeast Asian-American. There is said to be left over hostility between the Vietnamese and Cambodians.

Show sensitivity to class and gender.

In the case of the Asian student interventional methods should be individualized from one student to another due to the differences in sociocultural status, socioeconomic status, acculturation impact on the student and the student's family. The student-teacher relationship is essential in determining the success or failure rate of the student. Teachers should gather information regarding Asian students' backgrounds, languages, immigration and refugee experiences, acculturation levels, and community support systems. Knowledge empowers the teacher to understand what the individual student needs from his or her classroom environment. Sincere teacher interaction also works to develop student-teacher trust and works to promote higher grades and hard work. A common dilemma Asian ESL students face is the lack of cultural integration… [END OF PREVIEW]

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