Formation of Student’s Tolerance in Multicultural Environment When Teaching a Foreign Language (KFU Experience, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia)

Abstract

Formation of tolerance through a multicultural environment in higher educational institutions is of particular relevance because the number of international students increases, migrants from non-CIS countries flow into the territory of the Russian Federation, and many nations and confessions live both in the Republic of Tatarstan and the Russian Federation. The aim of our study is to identify and systematize the essential characteristics of the algorithm in the formation of students’ tolerance in a multicultural environment, its approbation and implementation in the process of foreign language teaching at the university. An analysis of the literature, teaching experience, and empirical studies enabled to identify the criteria and levels of students’ tolerance formation as well as to create special pedagogical conditions to provide students' stability under stressful, difficult situations in the learning activities. As a result of research, we defined the following pedagogical conditions: the development of students’ emotional stability in teaching and learning activities through the parallel algorithm as a precise prescription of a phased fulfillment of actions, intensive introduction of interactive forms of teaching, and the use of extracurricular forms of work. Actualization of these pedagogical conditions for tolerance formation in foreign language environment contributes to encouraging fluency in foreign language by international students and further development of foreign language skills; development of skills for self-analysis and self-criticism; promoting social citizenship, proactivity, adaptability and optimism.

Keywords: Student; teaching; multiculturalism; globalization; multicultural environment; multinational society; tolerance; ethnicand cultural haracteristics

Introduction

In the epoch of globalization, where people of different cultures and religions live, study and work

together, the goal of establishing tolerance and harmony has become extremely important. Without

tolerance we cannot speak about loyalty to each other. Lack of tolerance may lead to fighting, and

violence and then to aggression. Intolerance breeds intolerance. In order to combat intolerance, we

have to pay attention to the Universities where the younger generation is being formed. Formation of

tolerance through a multicultural environment in higher educational institutions is of particular

relevance because the numbers of international students are increasing, migrants from former non-CIS

countries flow into the territory of the Russian Federation, and people of many nations and confessions

live both in the Republic of Tatarstan and the Russian Federation.

In order to emphasize the urgency and importance of the chosen research topic, we would like to

refer to some provisions in Article 1 of the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, which was

proclaimed and signed by the Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and

Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1995. The meaning of tolerance in today’s political context is:

-Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures.

- Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and

fundamental freedoms of others.

- It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech,

behavior and values (2005).

Literature review

The role of tolerance in society, social spheres, in education has been extensively studied by many

scientists such as Afdal (2005), Brown (2006), Guthrie, King & Palmer (2000), Himelhoch (1950),

Terenzini, Cabrera, Colbeck, Bjorklund & Parente (2001), Henderson-King & Kaleta (2000), Nieto

(2005) and others. Theoretical analysis of the above mentioned research findings leads to the

conclusion that tolerance is seen not only as central value in education but in other spheres as well. For

example, Afdal (2005) stressed that tolerance is a basic ideal in many spheres of society. Accusations

of not being tolerant, of being intolerant, are serious and would in most instances damage the person’s

social and moral reputation. Steven Weldon (2006) considers that tolerance is a fundamental principle

of the liberal democratic creed, it requires citizens to participate fully in political, social, and economic

life. Furthermore there is an opinion which expresses the interrelatedness of the tolerance concepts and

identity. For example, for Brown (2000) "tolerance talk" turned into the beacon of multicultural justice

and civic peace. Toleration, according to Brown, came to be linked to the politics of identity.

Prof. S. Nieto (2006), emphasized the equality in education. Sonia Nieto relies on the concept of

both - equity and social justice in education. That, as she considers, consists of four components. First,

it challenges, and disrupts misconceptions, lies that lead to structural inequality and discrimination

based on race, social class, gender, and other social and human differences. Second, a social justice

perspective means providing all students with the resources necessary to learn to their full potential.

Equally vital are emotional resources such as a belief in students’ ability and worth, care for them as

individuals. A third component of a social justice perspective is drawing on the talents and strengths

that students bring to their education. These resources include their languages, cultures, and

experiences. A fourth essential component of social justice is creating a learning environment that

promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

No one is in doubt that the promotion of tolerance is carried out in the process of education. It is

education that is a powerful tool in upgrading tolerance and mutual understanding. The

interdependence between education and tolerance was confirmed by scientists many years ago (Holt &

Tygart, 1969).

Guthrie, King & Palmer (2000) consider that “developing respect for human diversity by replacing

racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism with an appreciation for racial, gender, and cultural differences is a

common learning goal of college and university educators. Educators should intentionally point

students toward curricular and co-curricular learning experiences that promote tolerance, especially

those based on developmental principles”. That’s why it is not surprising that nowadays “promoting

equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship is a long-term European commitment in the field of

education. Back in 2009, European Member States had identified this theme as one of the strategic

objectives of the Strategic Framework for Education and Training (ET2020).

With full confidence we can equate the true tolerance and such personality traits as kindness,

patience, self-control, love. Even intolerance can be expressed in terms of the presence or absence of

these qualities. It is important to note that tolerance is a student behavior manner, his/her attitude to the

mentioned qualities. This is a manifestation of human nature. Generally speaking, we understand

tolerance as willingness to accept feelings and habits, which are different from your own. It

means respect for different views and beliefs, behaviors and practices.

The essence of the concept of tolerance is investigated in the paper by Baklashova, Galishnikova &

Khafizova (2015) where the authors concluded that tolerance is a quality of a person which is formed in

the course of socialization, it is the quality of a person that is required as internal assumption of each

individual. It was stressed that the most common areas of understanding of this phenomenon or the

concept of tolerance are: religious tolerance, racial and ethnic tolerance, political tolerance, tolerance

against persons with disabilities, gender tolerance and sexual orientation-tolerance, educational

tolerance (Baklashova, Galishnikova & Khafizova, 2015).

It is well known that foreign language plays a significant role in the formation of tolerance. Second

language learning should be a core element to education. The university graduate must understand that

the world is characterized by diversity and difference. Problems such as cultural prejudices, racism can

be explored in foreign-language classrooms. This kind of exposure can aid in the development of

cultural empathy and an understanding of the inter-connections among people. Learning a foreign

language opens up all kinds of opportunities: to develop a strong footing in the global economy, to

know about diverse cultures, places and lifestyle, interact with people more freely. It increases not

only students’ mental focus, reading and writing abilities but opens their mind to new cultures and

new ways of thinking, gives the chance to consider foreign cultures and traditions. Awareness of

cultural practices, social customs and ethical practices across linguistic borders will facilitate

integration and give a deeper respect for multicultural world. A deeper attention to transformations in

the content of any foreign-language program can have an impact on the values and knowledge that

students need to understand (Ismagilova & Polyakova, 2014). The role of foreign language learning in

bringing up tolerance has greater importance. It was stressed by Renaud &Tannenbaum (2013) that a

classroom composed of students with widely different cultures offers lots of potential for excitement

and discovery, as well as for creating empathy and advancing the acquisition of English.

Generalizing the above, it should be noted that we consider tolerance from the standpoint of ethnic,

social, cultural and personal characteristics of the multinational composition of students and their

participation in the process of acquiring a foreign language as a means of intercultural communication.

As a multinational institution, we face the problem of students’ adaptation to their new environments.

Since they are active participants of society, the problem of tolerance in the high school surrounding

becomes urgent and demands closer attention. Entering the University presents students with numeral

novel challenges that extend beyond greater academic demands: difficulty with separation from family,

feelings of isolation and loneliness can be exacerbated by interpersonal and national conflicts as well as

by state of confusion.

Materials and Methods

The aim of our study is to identify and systematize the essential components of the algorithm in the

formation of students’ tolerance in a multicultural environment, its approbation and implementation in

the process of foreign language teaching at the university. The study uses a range of methods:

summative (questionnaires, tests), experimental and diagnostic (experimental work during foreign

language communication, aimed at creating tolerance by means of a foreign language, peer review

method and simulation methods), monitoring (comparative analysis). The main research method is a

formative experiment whose task is to determine the effectiveness of the pedagogical conditions

developed.

Results and Discussion

Analyses of the literature, our own teaching experience, and empirical studies have identified the

criteria and levels of students’ tolerance formation, which served the basis of our research. Also they

enabled the creation of special pedagogical conditions to provide students’ stability in stressful,

difficult situations in the learning activities.

Adequate assessment of the social and supportive multicultural atmosphere in the group is a

prerequisite for a successful educational process. Evaluation criteria include key parameters

(behavioral, personality and performance characteristics), which assess the effectiveness of student’s

activities. Criteria define the way in which each action must be shown to meet the requirements of the

society (Table 1 .)

Table 1 -
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Table 2 -
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We carried out the study of the dynamics of ethnic and social tolerance among international students

during co-education with representatives of various ethnic groups of Russia. Although the percentage

of international students in the University is not very big (about 12% of the total number), we think it is

very important to adapt them to multicultural educational and social environment. Thus, we are trying

to take time by the forelock to bring up tolerant professionals, since even small national communities

may face irreconcilable differences. The demographic background of the respondents who participated

in this study is 120 first- and second-year students. More than half of the students in the experimental

group demonstrated a sufficient level of tolerance (according to the criteria proposed) - 58%. 32% of

respondents are not self-confident, emotionally unstable, and do not adequately assess their level of

proficiency in a foreign language, there are manifestations of neglecting the rules of social tolerance.

This demonstrates the lack of established tolerance in relation to other members of the community and

requires an adjustment. 10% of international students are not very sociable, closed, completely

unmotivated to study a foreign language, prefer to communicate with representatives of their

nationality, and very forceful in their statements (Fig.1).

During the formative experiment, we created pedagogical conditions for the formation of desire,

willingness and ability of students to interact in different social situations of classroom and

extracurricular work at the university and building a constructive relationship among the students, to

provide students’ stability under stressful, difficult situations in the learning activities. These conditions

in our pedagogical forming experiment include:

1. The development of students' emotional stability in teaching and learning activities through the

parallel algorithm as a precise prescription of a phased fulfillment of actions and then combining the

results to achieve the goal:

a) the formation of group’s intellectual background - joint activities in the learning process and

encouraging fluency in foreign language by international students; b) further development of foreign

language skills - intervallic repetition of a new material or new words; integration of new and old

material; reliance on the language of the specialty; idea of large blocks - “immersion” blocks in

different subjects; c) t he system of rewards (positive or high score, friendly attitude, feasible task,

creating “a situation of success”, praise); c) t he use of cooperative pedagogy (learning willingly; the

idea of free choice - selecting the number of assignments by the student, based on an individual

approach); e) the continuity of the process of learning a foreign language.

2. Intensive introduction of interactive forms of teaching - role plays, case studies, discussions, use

of Internet resources, electronic educational resources, conferences, debates, all this leads to the

development of skills for self-analysis and self-criticism;

3. The use of extracurricular forms of work - holding forums, competitions, debate clubs, and the

involvement of international students, as experience shows, contributes to promoting social citizenship,

proactivity, adaptability and optimism.

Figure 1: Levels of tolerance (before the experiment)
Levels of tolerance (before the experiment)
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The results in the same group of students, a year later, were the following: Sufficient level of

tolerance – 72%; Low tolerance – 24%; Intolerance – 4%.

Figure 2: Levels of tolerance (after the experiment)
Levels of tolerance (after the experiment)
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Conclusion

We considered tolerance from the standpoint of ethnic and cultural characteristics of students’ multi-

ethnic composition; we developed and substantiated the algorithm for the formation of students’

tolerance in a multicultural environment; as a part of the multinational institution, we identified

pedagogical conditions for the strategy to form students’ tolerance based on the algorithm developed.

In the process of teaching a foreign language with international students, we should pay attention to

the pedagogical conditions of tolerance formation in foreign language environment. This involves the

development of students’ emotional stability in teaching and learning activities, encouraging fluency in

foreign language by international students and further development of foreign language skills; intensive

introduction of interactive forms of teaching; development of skills for self-analysis and self-criticism;

promoting social citizenship, proactivity, adaptability and optimism.

References

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2016.07.7

Online ISSN

2357-1330