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Culture and Immigration Experience

A Quick Guide for Educators

In a number of Canadian cities and towns, educators are receiving large numbers of Somali refugee and immigrant students in their classrooms. Immigration is a profoundly disruptive life transition requiring extensive adjustment and adaptation. These students may arrive with severely limited English language proficiency, and may have endured stressful socio-economic and emotional experiences. These experiences may contribute to negative attitudes towards school, poor behavior, lower academic performance and increased absences. Educators too may experience stress in their interactions with Somali students, due to the lack of a support system to understand the values, beliefs, backgrounds and socio-economic conditions of these students.

This guide is intended to assist educators to understand a little more about the backgrounds of and challenges facing Somali refugee and immigrant students. In Somali culture, educators are considered to be second parents. As such, teachers are expected to offer support to their students, to help and guide them to the “right path.” Somali people have a high expectation of educators to build a strong foundation for their children’s futures. Therefore, educators need to make an effort to understand the values and beliefs of their Somali students, who, from a Somali perspective, may be considered the teacher’s “newly adopted children.”


Teaching Somali Immigrant Children Resouces for Student Success

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