Suzanne Irujo


Suzanne Irujo. Spelling S-U-Z-A-N-N-E I-R-U-J-O.

I’m retired from Boston University and have my own little consulting business which is just me.

Profess--professor emerited, Boston University.

I--I spent about 12 years at Boston University working in ESL teacher education K-12, also bilingual education, mostly K-6, there wasn’t too much high school that we did, um, and foreign language education. I taught methodology courses, language acquisition courses that were geared specifically for teachers going into those, um, environments, working environments, and supervised student teachers. I retired about four years ago, but couldn’t retire (laughs) so I’ve since been teaching a course at a small college in New Hampshire for people who are getting certification in ESL. Um, of course, I’ve been doing this curriculum and assessment which worked in very, very nicely with what, um, TESAL (ph) asked me to do a couple years ago which was to serve as series editor for a book of classroom-based materials that would go along with the TESAL standards that were published in 1997. So, I think I gave two years of my life, with no pay, to TESAL, (laughs) um, but enjoyed it very, very much. It was one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve had and that’s what I’d like to talk about the most.

The--the ESL standards were an outgrowth of the push by the federal government throughout the ‘90s, actually started in the late ‘80s, to have standards for every subject area and all of the professional teachers’ organizations were encouraged and funded to write standards for social studies, mathematics, science, language arts and as those standards were coming out and people in TESAL would look at them and realize that there was no reference to English language learners in any of the standards that were being developed so TESAL thought we need to do something about that and the original work was a position paper, it was called “The Access Brochure” and part--a school needs to do to provide access and that developed into a statement about how language is acquired, some basic information for mainstream teachers and language acquisition and then they went into a full-fledged project to develop ESL standards. Um, I had nothing to do with any of that work, um, and the first time I saw them, before they were even out in final form, the first time I saw a draft of the ESL standards, I looked at them and I said, ‘Yeah, these are nice, but what are teachers supposed to do with them?’ And I think that the thrust behind the standards, of course, is curriculum development and--and the--the help that a mainstream curriculum would be aligned with the ESL standards, but my interest has always been individual classroom teachers. That’s the bottom line and that’s where it either happens or doesn’t happen and a lot of them can’t wait for the programs to do all of this alignment process so I wanted to know what teachers would do with the standards in their classrooms and a few years later, as a member TESAL’s publication committee, found myself in a position to be able to do something about it. I was asked to edit a series of four books that would provide classroom materials for teachers that were integrated with the standards so the books are integrating the standards into ESL classroom practice.

My work with the standards has both solidified a lot of my previous beliefs and opened new areas for me. Um, in previous work that I had done while I--everybody recognizes the importance of assessment and many, many teachers are assessing continually while they’re teaching, but in the formalized lesson planning when we teach pre-service teachers to plan lessons and units it always seems that we do all the planning and then we tack the assessment on at the end. And we tell them, yes, it has to relate back to your objectives, but it always feels like an add-on that was sort of thrown in at the last minute because somebody told me I had to do assessment. And in--in my experience with both student teachers and inservice practicing teachers they are assessing and they know that they’re assessing, but it isn’t recorded any place except in their minds and on whatever kind of report cards they have to give out. So when you move into standards-based instruction where there has to be some kind of record and some kind of accountability you end up with it just coming off of the top of the teacher’s head and of course everybody says, well, no, that--we can’t do that, so ESL students end up being assessed with the mainstream standards whether or not they’re at a language level that they’re able to perform to those standards or not. Um, so one thing that has also impacted my own teaching, as in my own teacher education classes, is that the assessment really gets in there at the beginning when you plan with standards because the--the ESL standards, for example, um, they’re--first place they’re very simple. The organization of them is very simple. There are only nine standards. As you work with them you get so a pattern is formed in your mind. There are three goal areas, each one has three standards and you make your own little mental image of what that pattern is so you’re not constantly flipping through a book trying to think, ‘Oh, did I do this? Did I do that?’ It’s in your head so as you’re planning and you realize that everything you’re doing is focused, perhaps, on goal two, which is the academic language, you have two other places in your head coming at you saying, but they need social language and that--both social and academic language has to be appropriate or they’re going to be misunderstood all the time and that gets in then from the very beginning of planning a unit. You’re thinking about the three big areas that they need to know and I think that’s--that’s one thing that the standards can do at an individual teacher level is really get the assessment in there from the beginning. They become part of the assessment, part of teaching and, of course, evaluation.

A highly qualified ESL teacher, I think there’s some qualities that they have before they do any kind of taecher education which help tremendously. Um, I don’t think it’s an absolutely necessity that they have experienced learning another language and living in another culture, but it really, really, really helps. If you’ve done that, you know what your students are experiencing, you’ve been through it yourself and a lot of the best ESL teachers I’ve worked with have been teachers who have lived abroad. Um, many people go into Peace Corps, come back and become very successful ESL teachers because they’ve--they’ve had those experiences. Now, I’ve also seen mainstream teachers who never, perhaps never even studied another language, move into an ESL classroom and do a wonderful job, but--so it isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s--it’s an empathy that they have. An ability to understand what another person is going through. Um, it’s easier if yoiu’ve experienced it, but if you have the empathy without having experienced it yourself you can do it too. Um, patience, loving children. Thinking now of--of this love--loving children whatever age you happen to be working with, um, I could never have been a junior high school teacher, but the good ones I know couldn’t teach anything but junior high school. They--they relate to that age so you need some of that. As--as you get into training, the things that a--an--an ESL teacher education program can provide, um, I’ve spent some time debating with colleagues over the role of linguistics in--in teaching, um, in preparing teachers, particularly for the lower grades, um, I think they do need--they--they need to understand how the language works. They need to be able to figure out why their students are producing certain kinds of constructions. I don’t even want to call them errors because they’re developmental constructions that will change. They need language acquisition. They need to understand the develomental nature of language. Um, but I think those things need to be taught in a way that they will understand the connetion to the classroom. (clears throat) Um, practice in the classroom, time spent in the classroom. Time spent observing good teachers, observing bad teachers, observing all kinds of teachers and make--coming to their own conclusions about which is which and why. Reflectivity about what they see. (clears throat) Excuse me. Will you edit this out?

Thinking about what they do, about what worked, why it worked, why it didn’t work, what they could’ve done differently, how a particular class--a particular student or--or a whole class, the interactoin among different kinds of students in a class. How they effect what you do. How it’s different every time you teach it because the children are different. I could go on and on.

I’d like to tell a story about one of the writers who contributed to the ESL standards series, so this is not a person who I have observed in the classroom, but the opening vignette for his unit in the ESL send--the integrating the ESL standards into the classroom series. Um, he describes an experience he had. He had gone into teaching after another career. Wasn’t really sure he wanted to be a teacher. He--he’d had a writing career and had gone into teaching. (clears throat) He was a third grade mainstream teacher. He was not an ESL teacher, but he was in a place where, um, there were--probably the majority of this class was non-native English speakers. And he tells of an incident that happened on the playground. He was doing playground duty and it was about the third--second or third day of school when a young Vietnamese boy came up to him crying, crying, crying, crying and he tried to find out what was wrong and couldn’t understand anything the boy was saying and he kept insisting, you know, tell me, tell me what’s wrong. What’s the matter? You have to stop crying. And the boy would say things that he couldn’t understand at all (clears throat) and he finally was getting a little impatient and decided just to turn the child over to his teacher and he said, ‘Who is your teacher?’ And the boy looked up at him and said, ‘You are.’ And he said that changed his teaching completely. He--he had thought he was learning his students, who they were. He was learning names, he wasn’t learning anything else about them. He wasn’t even connecting names with faces. And he used that experience to develop the first unit that he taught--the first writing unit that he taught during the year was one on getting to know each other and getting to know backgrounds and he ended up getting parents to participate in this. It’s--it’s a beautiful, beautiful unit and very well done. And there--for him it was--it was a child telling him you have to pay attention to me. For other people it’s--it’s different things. I think it comes in different ways to everybody, but it’s beautiful when it happens. (laughs) I’ve got another very short story that I could (interviewer interrupts) this--this is about a teacher, actually, um, that--not one I worked with. this is a very good friend of mine who was a teacher. Uh, worked in this state that required all mainstream teachers to have 15 clock hours worth of work working with non-native students, working with ESL students. And he was a junior high school teacher. Been--very successful teacher, been teaching for years and he was sure that he didn’t need all of this. He was successful with his ESL students and we’d had conversations about it before, usually in a group situation where I would end up being the only proponent of bilingual eduation or special services for ESL students. Um, and my husband and I went on a range hike through the White Mountains with him and his wife for eight days. He and I talked about why teachers, mainstream teachers, anybody who’s working with ESL students, need some kind of special training. It took me eight days, but at the end of the eight days he said, ‘You know what? You’re right.’ So, it can happen with one child telling you or it can happen with a friend just very gently pushing it in bit by bit in the mountains. It can happen in lots of different ways.

I have--I’ve been doing some work in, essentially, call it action research or call it just reflectivity, I--I consider it more reflectivity than formalized action research, but, um, work--looking at my own teaching as a teacher educator so that my students are in--preservice or inservice teachers. Many, many of them inservice teachers with experience who have come back to get a masters, um, some of them preservice teachers. And I believe very, very strongly in a social constructivist approach to learning. I believe--let--let me give you an example from my own learning. As a doctoral student I took a course in first language acquisition and the teacher lectured for two hours, took a break, left her teaching assistant to answer questions for the third hour of class and that was it. She wou ld come into the room, write and outline of what she was going to do on the board, turn around and lecture from that outline for two--two hours. And I had no--notes from every class of practically everything she said. Eight years later, whenever it was when I was asked to teach a course in first language acquisition I went back to those notes and I did not remember ever having heard any of that before. So I said, ‘I can’t teach this.’ I--I really believe that students have to be involved, they have to be--they have to do things that will give them ownership of the material, they have to grapple with it to understand it so that my job is to set up the classroom in ways that will enable them to do that. So, I don’t want to tell them, I want them to find out for themselves and I’ve used lots of different participant structures to--to do this. But in many of my classes I had sometimes even a majority of international students who have always been lectured to, they--they do learn well that way, they’re not like me who it went in my head and out my pen onto the paper and I totally forgot it, um, they’re used to this kind of learning and they’re very uncomfortable with groups. They don’t think they’re--the other students in the group know as much as I do so they want me to tell them. They don’t want to learn from their colleagues. If I give them choices about how they’re going to learn something they don’t know how to respond to that. And it--by the way, it isn’t always the international students. The first year that I did what I ended up calling a negotiated syllabus it was completely by chance because I expected as a--a methodoly class that (clears throat) at the time the program was very small, it was for K through 12, modern foreign language, bilingual education and English as a second language all together. And I expected all undergraduates, I had heavy emphasis on lesson planning and very basic things and I got a group of experienced teachers who looked at the syllabus and they didn’t say anything, but they--I could tell they were dismayed that this is what they were going to be doing. So I said, ‘OK. What do you think you need?’ And we created a brand new syllabus which had lots of choices for them because they were all so different in what they were going to be doing. But there was one student in that class the first year who said that for the first two-thirds of the semester she thought I was a terrible teacher because I didn’t tell them what to do. So it’s not just the international students who have some of those attitudes. So, that’s been the focus of my reflection on my own work and trying to find ways where I can expose students to this without imposing my beliefs on them because their beliefs are not necessarily the same. You know, if they--if they really believe that I should tell them what to do, perhaps they’re not going to be able to make those choices themselves. I need to--to work towards that or do I need to work towards that? Am--am I imposing? There’s a little voice in my head occasionally that says, ‘What if those transmission people are right?’ (laughs) And I need to listent to that voice because I--you know, students, they’re--they’re all different and we have to find ways to teach them whether we’re teacher educators or teachers in the classroom we have to find ways that will reach every student.

It’s--it’s--it’s a dilemma and I--I constantly have perhaps half of the evaluations saying how wonderful the class is because they really felt ownershp of it and felt they could, um, felt they could do what they needed to do to get the most out of the class and the other half of the evaluations are, ‘But you didn’t tell us anything. You’re the expert. We want to know what you think.’ And that’s been pretty--pretty constant, um, it’s--it’s something we live with. (laughs)

Oh, that--that was--that was a--many years ago, um, I wrote a--a short article. It was actually based on a workshop that I had done and somebody asked me to write up an article and I said, ‘Well, this will work in print.’ Um, looking at differences between Latino students and--and Anglo students. Well, it--it wasn’t really the differences between them, it was just looking at the Latino students and looking at--at characteristics that might be culturally based, um, that made teaching them really different. And it came from my own experience as a bilingual taecher, um, who had prepared to be a high school foreign language teacher and was put into a classroom of all Puerto Rican children. Um, and though I did have bicultural experience, I had lived in Spain, but Spain is not Peurto Rico (laughs) so the--the thing I remember most was, as I started reading about cultural differences, um, differences in nonverbal behavior, for example. I did some research as a graduate student in--in nonverbal communication. As I started reading this, discovered one thing which was like a lightbulb turning on. Um, I’m very linear, very sometimes even tunnel vision of--I can only do one thing at a time and my students were constantly gathered around me, pushing papers in front of me and I kept wondering how they expected me to be able to deal with all these papers at the same time and I would tell them, ‘Now, wait a minute. When I finish correcting this one, I’ll do yours.’ And then I read with a lot of wonderful examples of the Latino, uh, ability to deal with many things at the same time. And, you know, they don’t stand in line, they--waiting for a clerk to wait on them, they’ll all just kind of group around the person that pushes forward the most will often be the one who’s waited on and if you stand quietly in line you’ll never get waited on and without making this into a stereotype, I think it’s a valid cultural generalization from the experience I’ve had. Anyway, um, certainly there are Latinos who stand in line as quietly and politely as--as many Anglos do, but, um, for me it was like a lightbulb going on. Now I understand why they do--why they’re doing this. They’re not being, what seemed to me almost impolite and pushy, they’re operating according to rules, which in their own culture, are fine. So I did a little more research into other areas in which, um, this is true and found, gosh, it’s been a long time ago now, but, um, found a lot of places where an Anglo teacher without the experience of living in the culture of the students could bump up against things that are culturally determined, maybe is--is too strong a word, but culturally influenced behaviors, particularly the nonverbal behaviors which are acceptable and expected in their culture, but which either have a different meaning or we just don’t understand what they are as I didn’t understand what was happening when everybody was pushing papers under my nose. So, the ability--when you’re an ESL teacher people have asked me, you know, ‘How can I learn that much about the culture and language of ten different language backgrounds in my classroom?’ You can’t. Um, I was a bilingual teacher, I--and I knew the language so I was able to take my experience living in Spain and learn about the Puerto Rican experience and then, you know, feel quite comfortable after a while. But I think it’s--it’s a--a--having experienced it yourself helps very much and it’s also a way of thinking, understanding that things don’t always mean what I think they’re going to mean and I need to--when--when there’s a clash, when there’s something that seems funny, I need to step back and stop and think, ‘Is this a cultural difference?’ And then you can ask the students to explain it. You can understand them. So you don’t have to know all the details about every student you have in your class. You have to be open to--you--you have to recognize those clash points and then step back and--and figure out what’s going on.

I think one of the--the best things is experiencing it yourself and I know that’s impossible for...

(Ms. Irujo is asked to rephrase her answer)

Um, in teacher education programs, um, culture--the--the issue of--of teaching culture, teaching cultural understanding, teaching cross-cultural communication, um, is a--is a difficult one if--if you begin by just saying, ‘Well, you need to learn about your--the culture of your students,’ um, yes, but you can’t learn the culture of every potential ESL student you will ever have. Um, do you learn general understandings of culture and how culture differs and why it differs? What creates culture? How it’s transmitted. Yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have the--you’ll--you’ll have an intellectual understanding of it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have the emotional understanding that’s necessary in order to recognize what’s happening in a classroom. So, the best thing is to experience your--it yourself and it doesn’t have to be in the culture of your students, I think it--just living in another culture is probably the best thing. Um, something we’ve done with students who don’t have that experience and really can’t have that experience. If you’re in a place where they could do some field work with another community. In Boston, for example, um, we would send them--and these--these were usually field components that were associated with a class. Um, we would send them to the community organizations so that they would be working with--uh, if they were going to be teaching Puerto Rican children they would be working with Puerto Rican community workers and their clients in that situation and if--if they do enough of that it--it certainly helps.

High--high expectations is probably my soap box issue because I have seen teachers--I felt it myself. I have felt the sort of prevading atmosphere of a school that looks down on the minority students begin to creep into--not--certainly not my conscious thinking, but once in a while my first reaction will be something that is a reflection of possible low expectations. I--I hope I catch it myself so that I’m not guilty of it myself. Um, but I’ve also seen teachers in the classroom, um, sometimes Anglo teachers, but often also teachers from the same community, bilingual teachers who are from the same community as the children they teach, but there’s a class difference there from the lower class of students, generally from the lower class and the teacher is--is an educated middle class person who has very low expectations for the students, but doesn’t know it. Um, I was reminded of an--an example that I read many years ago so I can’t give you a citation of, I can’t tell you where it is, but I was reminded of that by a friend very recently, um, talking about her kindergarten age son who can read, but his kindergarten teacher didn’t know he could read because there was no opportunity for him to show that. Now, that’s not a case of low expectations, but it’s a case of not being a--not being in touch with what your students can do. Um, the example from the research was one where a kindergarten class was being videotaped and when the teacher saw one piece of videotape she saw things in a student that she had never seen in the interactions that she had with the student. She had decided she was going to keep the student back for another year of kindergarten and based on what she saw in the videotape she realized that--and the low expectations are--they’re very sneaky, in a way. They--they sneak up on you because you think that what you’re doing is adjusting your instruction to the student’s level so that you’re not pushing a student beyond frustration level, um, you’re not going to embarrass the student by trying to make that student do something that can’t be done yet. Um, but what it translates to is lowered expectations even when you have the best of intentions. And I have seen it so many times and I’ve seen the effect that it has, um, what’s the answer? The answer may be, I’m going to connect this to my work on the--the standards project and the, um, work on getting teachers using the standards in--in their classroom. The answer may be that one side of working with standards--is this OK that I’m reconnecting to this because there’s something about standards I wanted to say too. (Interviewer is talking with Ms. Irujo during this last sentence) and you will edit this out. Yeah.

Um, having standards for all students, which is what the current standard-based instruction movement is doing, having standards for all students I think is absolutely necessary. Um, in a country like this school system’s which graduate people from high school reading at the third grade level is not acceptable. Um, we have to have standards, but if standards are going to be put in place with tests that test the standards and you don’t pass the test, you stay in the grade you’re in, I’m sorry, you don’t pass the test for leaving high school, you don’t graduate, I’m sorry, that’s a terrible injustice. That’s--the remedy is just as bad as the evil was in the first place if that’s what we’re going to do. So, standards are only going to work if we provide the support that every student needs in order to be able to meet those standards. So, how do I hook this back to where I was before?

(Interviewer prompts Ms. Irujo)

High expectations. Um, the standards provide the teachers with tools to increase their expectations of students because they provide you with a planning and observational and evaluation tool that shows what students are doing in ways that teachers often don’t notice, particularly teachers working with ESL students, don’t notice because these are very small things and they still can’t do the things that are in my curriculum and in my mind that I think a student in my class should be able to do. They still can’t do that so I don’t see this progress that they’re making along the way and that’s what these standards will show and then I think teachers--everybody will start feeling better about themselves and the teachers will realize they are making progress. They aren’t impossible to teach.

We--we--we hit on my, you know, the dilemmas of teaching the conflict between your own philosophy and--and where your students are, um, I’m just very, very convinced that it is possible to reach every student. It’s very, very difficult and anybody whoever goes into teaching because they think it’s easy should be going someplace else. Um, that reminds me of a cartoon. My first year teaching and I started--I--I was into my 30’s before I started teaching, I raised my children first and finished my degree with a--with secondary Spanish certification, I was going to be a high school Spanish teacher. They didn’t need any high school Spanish teachers where I lived so--but they needed an elementary bilingual teacher and I had no idea what bilingual--what--if what elementary teachers did with the same students all day long. I had always--I’d had some substitute teaching experience but also high school so no matter how bad it’s going, in 45 minutes they’ll be gone and you’ll get a new bunch and you’ll start over with that new bunch. And that wasn’t true, you had the same students all day long. I had a very difficult first year and I found a Peanuts cartoon about my second month of teaching to cut out and it was on my bulletin board all the years that I was in an elementary classroom. It was Charlie Brown talking to Lucy and Lucy was talking--they were talking about bowling and Lucy said, ‘Well, the best way to be a good bowler is to aim right--’ No. Let me back up and start this over again. The way I bowl is to aim right down the middle and try to hit as many pins as I can and Charlie Brown said, ‘You can’t be a very good bowler that way.’ Teachers who aim right down the middle and try to hit as many students as they can are always going to leave the ones on the edges without any attention and that’s--that’s my individual message. I guess that’s what I’ve tried to get across to teachers in working with them. It’s very, very difficult. It doesn’t get any easier. Standards can make it easier, but often don’t. It’s often just another layer of bureaucracy added on. I do think the ESL standards make it easier because of their simplicity, the big picture that they provide of where you should be going and what you should be doing. Um, but we can’t ever forget that it’s every child in the classroom, that’s why we’re doing it.

(Ms. Irujo is asked to retell the Peanuts story)

But it was connected to teaching. Oh, I know what it was. All right. I’ll tell it right this time.

OK. There’s a cartoon that I found my first year teaching which stayed on my bulletin board as long as I was in the classroom. It was Charlie Brown and Lucy and Lucy was talking about her teacher. And she said, ‘My teacher says that teaching is just like bowling. You aim down the middle and try to hit as many as you can.’ And Charlie Brown said, ‘She can’t be a very good bowler.’ So, that’s what I--that’s what has inspired me through my whole career in trying to be sure that I hit everyone. I’m not a bowler, I can’t hit every bowling pin, but I hope I’ve been a good enough teacher and I have inspired other teachers to hit every student in their class because everyone’s just as important as every other one.

Um, for students who can’t live in another culture, which is--is the best and--and living...

(Ms. Irujo is asked to start over)

For teachers who are going to go into ESL teaching who can’t live in another country, um, and the best thing--when I say live I mean really live, I don’t mean go for three weeks because that isn’t long enough for the culturation process to start kicking in. Um, other options--we--we often will encourage people to take a summer and do a summer language program in another country. Um, that’s very, very useful. If they simply can’t get to another country, we look around the community and try to find community resources, um, where they could do an internship or, um, work with a community agency that is focused on a particular ethnic group. Um, sometimes--I’m in the East so we don’t have Indian reservations where people could work--sometimes just going to another ethnic community as, um, one course that I had as a graduate student we had to choose another culture and attend three functions in that culture. So, you know, you could go to a Greek Orthodox church or party and they--they helped us find the organizations that would welcome us to come and we had to write about our experiences. So, if you can’t do the immersion in another culture, you can put together a series of, um, experiences that students can have with other cultures. Sometimes you can simulate that experience, um, even within the same culture. I took a couple of my students to, um, a very, very small town in New England where I have retired to now, where I live in New Hampshire and had them--just turned them loose on the town and had them find out as much about the history of the town as possible. This was in preparation for them going to another country so that they would get an idea of how to interact with people from a different--not as different as among students, but different than the urban people they were used to interacting with. These are ideas that come out of the experiment and international living at the, um, School for International Training and they have resources that provide a lot of ideas. There are also simulation games that can be done within the classroom, um, where you create new languages and new cultures within the classroom and then send people to another. One group creates a culture with its own rules and sends a representative to find out about another culture. A lot of interesting things happen so you can create a lot of that awareness in students, even within the four walls of a classroom if--if that’s the only way you can do it. Is that enough?

For--for people who are beyond their initial teacher training and have had no experience with other ethnic groups and all of a sudden find themselves with an influx of students, um, the culture grams are very, very helpful. They have culture grams and--and I would suggest--I--I can’t give you an address or a publisher but I’m sure you can get on the Web and do a search for culture grams. Isn’t it wonderful now? We don’t have to remember all who published everything because we can go search for it on the Web. Um, these are--any country in the world has a culture gram and they were intitiatally meant more for going to that country. They sometimes cover weather and things like that which is not really what we need to know about their students coming here, but they have good information about culture also. There are also a set of two books and I can’t come up with the publisher but if I had the bibliography to the standards books I could find it for you. Um, they cover everything a teacher need--not everything, obviously not everything, but very, very good information for teachers about both language and culture for an immense variety of language and culture groups around the country. Do you know what I’m talking about? No. Um.

For people who really want to experience another culture just--not just read about it and find out about, you know, what are the language differences? What are the cultural differences? You--you just want to go--let’s--let’s say you’re a mainstream teacher and you’ve had an influx of Vietnamese students. Reading it isn’t going to give you that experiential knowledge that you want. Um, look around your community and see what places you could go. Um, start with a Vietnamese restaurant. Ask your waiter, ‘Is--are there things that the Vietnamese community does that an outsider might be welcome--an interested outsider might be welcome to attend?’ Um, talk to the parents of your students. Ask them if there are ways that you could start learning about their culture. You might have parents volunteering to come into your classroom and helping you learn things. Um, do--depending on the culture, obviously, depending on the individual, but teachers get invited to students’ homes for meals. Teachers, uh, I know one teacher who ended up getting very involved with the priest in a monk community, um, working on the differences between the community expectations for education and American school expectations for education and that was because she went out and made the contacts and looked for it. So.