Multicultural Education for Teachers – 4 Ideas for Summer Break

The countdown to summer break has begun! Summer break is a well-deserved time for teachers to relax, recharge, and pursue personal interests. While many teachers use this time for professional development, traditional workshops aren’t the only way to learn.

Explore these four ideas for cultural immersion this summer to enhance your understanding of your multilingual students’ cultures.

Grab a friend over summer and take on this Summer of Culture Bingo card! See who gets bingo first!

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What is Multicultural Education?

According to the Glossary of Education Reform, multicultural education “refers to any form of education or teaching that incorporates the histories, texts, values, beliefs, and perspectives of people from different cultural backgrounds.” 

Many teachers are eager to represent and honor their students’ cultures but may have a limited understanding of these cultures. 

Why not use summer break to enhance your own multicultural education? Here are four ideas to get started.


Idea #1 – Talk to Your Students

When back-to-school season rolls around, teachers often prepare activities to get to know their students and build their classroom culture and community. Try capitalizing on this opportunity at the end of the year as well.

Once testing has ended and graduation ceremonies have taken place, educators typically have more time to connect with their students informally in the classroom. Use that time to talk to your students.

Ask about places their families frequent, types of grocery stores and markets they visit, festivals, and restaurants serving authentic cuisine.

These conversations can give you ideas for places to visit over the summer. 

For instance, if a Vietnamese student recommends a local area with Vietnamese restaurants, stores, and places of worship, you can visit the area, try the food, and learn about the culture through firsthand experience. 

This simple activity can help you incorporate what you’ve learned into your classroom and build relationships with students.


Idea #2: Cultural Immersion Travel

Traveling to countries or regions where your students’ cultures originate offers a unique opportunity to experience their backgrounds firsthand.

This type of cultural immersion can significantly enhance your understanding and appreciation of their traditions, values, and daily lives. By traveling abroad, you gain insights that can help you connect more deeply with your students and create a more inclusive and supportive classroom environment. 

Programs like Fund for Teachers and the Fulbright-Hays Program provide opportunities for teachers to travel abroad.

If traveling abroad isn’t feasible, explore local cultural events, markets, landmarks,  houses of worship, and festivals based on your students’ backgrounds.


Idea #3: Language Learning

Learning a new language, especially one spoken by your students and their parents, can help you communicate more effectively and build trust. It also provides insights into the challenges your students face when learning a new language

Use language learning apps like Duolingo or Babbel (check your local library for other free language apps), enroll in local language classes, or join language exchange meetups. Set realistic goals, such as learning basic conversational phrases (or those commonly used to communicate with parents – think grades, behavior, and progress), and practice regularly through listening to music, watching films, series, or reading children’s books in the target language.


Idea #4: Reading and Multimedia Resources

Engage with books, reputable websites, social media accounts (search accounts of young adult creators from your students’ home countries), documentaries, and podcasts about different cultures to deepen your understanding of multicultural education. 

Create a summer reading* and watching list, and consider forming a discussion group with fellow teachers (especially those from diverse backgrounds) to share insights and discuss the materials.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Status PodcastImmigration stories told by immigrants
Latino USA – NPR – Latino culture in the US from a Latino perspective
Modern Immigrant – Immigrant Life in the United States
ML Chat Podcast – Multilingual Student Instruction

CIA World Factbook
National Geographic Education


  • A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
  • American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins
  • The Circuit – Francisco Jimenez
  • The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  • Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner
  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
  • Chinese Born American – Gene Luen Yang


Summer break is the perfect time to broaden your perspective by experiencing new cultural activities. By engaging in cultural immersion, travel, language learning, and consuming diverse media, you can enrich your teaching practice and create a more inclusive classroom environment. 

Take this opportunity to explore something new and bring back new perspectives and experiences to the classroom next school year!

*All resources listed are suggestions for adult learners to enhance your own learning.

Picture of Jessica Payano

Jessica Payano

Jessica is an accomplished educator with 15 years of experience as a Title I NYC public school teacher, instructional coach and consultant. Jessica is dedicated to using her passion, creativity, and experience to develop resources that make grade-level content accessible to multilingual learners.


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