17 Innovative Ways to Teach Social Studies in Multicultural & Multilingual Classrooms

In today’s globalized world, diversity is increasingly prevalent in our classrooms. As teachers, it’s our responsibility to not only acknowledge this but also embrace it.

Our task is to prepare our students for the diverse and dynamic world they will inherit. The world is becoming increasingly multicultural and multilingual. It’s essential that we are equipped with the knowledge to teach in diverse classrooms.

So, let’s dive in and explore some tips and strategies. They will help you teach in multicultural and multilingual classrooms.

Innovative ways to teach social studies in multicultural & multilingual classrooms.

Get to know your students:

This might seem like a captain’s obvious one, but it’s important to remember.

First, you must know your students to effectively teach multicultural and multilingual classrooms. Every student has a unique background, culture, and language. Understanding and valuing their backgrounds can create an inclusive classroom environment. This will foster learning.

To do this, show interest and respect for their cultures and languages. And try to incorporate their cultural backgrounds into your teaching.

By understanding their perspectives, you can tailor your lessons to be more relevant and engaging.

So how can you do this?

Survey your students. Spend time talking with them during independent work or downtime. You can also have them write reflections connecting to your teaching.

Use culturally relevant resources:

Using culturally relevant resources in a multicultural and multilingual classroom is crucial. This means using texts, images, and other materials that reflect the students’ cultures. It helps students feel seen, heard, and valued in the classroom.

Another strategy is culturally responsive teaching. This teaching approach recognizes and values the cultural and linguistic diversity of students. You can use culturally responsive teaching to reflect your students’ cultural backgrounds.

For example, you can add

  • culturally relevant texts
  • music,
  • art

Encourage student participation:

Encouraging student participation is another way to create an inclusive classroom environment. Students should feel empowered to share their perspectives and experiences. Regardless of their language abilities. They can achieve this through group discussions, debates, and other interactive activities.

This will also help students grow in the four linguistic domains: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Use Visuals and Graphic Organizers:

Visual aids can be beneficial when teaching in multicultural and multilingual classrooms. They can help students understand complex concepts and bridge language barriers.

Examples of visual aids:

  • pictures
  • videos
  • diagrams
  • charts
  • graphic organizers
  • maps
  • timelines

These resources can help students understand abstract concepts regardless of their language proficiency.

Here’s an example,

  • a timeline of the American Revolution with pictures

This can help students understand the sequence of events and key players in the revolution.

Use differentiated instruction:

Ah, the dreaded and often overused term: differentiation. But don’t fret. Differentiation can be very effective in a multicultural and multilingual classroom. Students where students come with varying levels of language skills. So it’s important to tailor instruction to meet their needs.

You can do this by using a variety of teaching strategies and materials.

Embrace diversity in your curriculum:

One of the most effective ways to create an inclusive classroom is to include diverse perspectives. This means going beyond the traditional Eurocentric view of history. Explore the contributions and experiences of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Doing this can help your students develop a more nuanced understanding of the world.

Create a safe and inclusive learning environment:

Making an inclusive environment for a multicultural and multilingual classroom is essential. It’s important to create a classroom culture that values diversity and inclusivity. You can do this with rules that promote respect, kindness, and empathy for all students. I like to have the students create these rules.

Another important thing to consider is your own biases and blind spots. Once you recognize them, you can move past them to effectively help your students.

Use technology to your advantage:

Technology can be a powerful tool for teaching in multicultural and multilingual classrooms. There are many online resources available that can help you to create engaging lessons that are accessible to all students.

For example,

  • Use translation websites to help English Language Learners understand instructions.
  • Use websites like Quizlet or Kahoot to create interactive quizzes.
  • Use Google Earth to take your students on virtual field trips.

Incorporate multilingualism into your classroom:

Another way to create an inclusive classroom is to embrace multilingualism. This means valuing and supporting all the languages spoken by your students.

You can do this by

  • Incorporating bilingual materials into your lessons
  • Encouraging students to use their home language in class
  • Learning key phrases in their languages.

Additionally, students might be at different levels of language proficiency in a multicultural and multilingual classroom.  Encouraging language development is vital for all students, regardless of their first language.

You can give opportunities for students to practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing in English.

Or their first language.

For example, you can give

  • sentence stems
  • word banks to support students as they participate in discussions.

Foster a sense of community:

Creating community among your students is essential in a multicultural and multilingual classroom.

This means encouraging them to work together, learn from each other, and celebrate their differences.

You can do this by

  • incorporating group work into your lessons
  • organizing multicultural events and celebrations
  • encouraging students to share their cultural traditions with the class.

Be patient and flexible:

Teaching in multicultural and multilingual classrooms can be challenging at times. But it’s important to be patient and flexible.

This means recognizing students’ learning styles, language abilities, and cultural backgrounds. Then adapting your teaching methods to accommodate these differences.

By doing this, you can ensure that all your students have the opportunity to succeed.

Incorporate hands-on learning:

One of the most effective ways to engage students from diverse backgrounds is to use hands-on learning in your lessons.

This means using activities that allow students to explore different cultures in an interactive way.

Encourage student voice:

In a multicultural and multilingual classroom, it’s important to encourage student voices. Allow students to share their ideas, opinions, and perspectives with the class. This can create a more inclusive learning environment where students feel valued.

Use cooperative learning strategies:

Cooperative learning strategies can help students learn from each other. And promote community in the classroom. You can use collaborative learning strategies to help students work together to solve problems and share their ideas.

For example, you can use group work to have students work together to research and present a topic.

Use graphic novels:

Graphic novels are a fantastic resource for ELL students. They visually represent the story and can help students better understand complex concepts.

There are a ton of great graphic novels out there that cover historical events.

Here are some great examples,

  • “Maus” by Art Spiegelman
  • “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi,
  • “March” by John Lewis.

These books are not only informative but also engaging and entertaining.

Use authentic materials:

Using authentic materials in your social studies lessons can help your ELL students develop their language skills and gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the country.

Examples include,

  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Newspapers

Plus, it’s a great way to expose your students to real-world language use.

Use peer tutoring:

Peer tutoring is a great way to help ELL students improve their language skills.

Pair your ELL students with native speakers of the language. Or with more advanced ELL students. Not only will this help your ELL students improve their language skills, but it will also help them develop social connections. Making them feel more included in the classroom.

Grab my 5 Foolproof Strategies to Support ELs in Your Social Studies Classes lesson bundle. It’s chock full of some of the strategies discussed in this post.

So, you have all these strategies and ideas. Now what? Check out these ELL resources for teachers you can incorporate into your lessons.

ELL Resources for Teachers


Quizlet is a fantastic ELL resource for teachers that allows you to create and share interactive study sets with your students.

With Quizlet, you can create

  • flashcards
  • quizzes,
  • games perfect for practicing vocabulary and grammar.

Plus, Quizlet ensures that your students study the content they need to know. At the right difficulty level.

So, whether you’re teaching American history, world geography, or global cultures, Quizlet is an awesome ELL resource to help your ELL students succeed.


Duolingo is a popular language-learning app that can also be used in the classroom. With Duolingo, your students can practice their English skills through interactive exercises.

Plus, Duolingo adapts to your student’s strengths and weaknesses. This way so they can improve at their own pace. And the best part? Duolingo is free and available on both desktop and mobile devices.


This is an oldie, but goodie. Newsela is a news and current events platform that offers articles at different reading levels.

This makes it an ideal ELL resource for helping your students improve their reading skills.

With Newsela, you can find articles on a wide range of topics. You can adjust the reading level from politics to pop culture to fit your student’s needs. Newsela offers comprehension quizzes and writing prompts.


Padlet is a digital bulletin board that can be used to share information and collaborate with your students. It also allows you to create a virtual classroom.

You can post assignments, share resources, and facilitate discussions. And because Padlet is so easy to use, your ELL students will have no trouble navigating the platform. And participating in class discussions. Plus, Padlet offers a wide range of customization options, so you can make your virtual classroom feel unique and personalized.

Google Translate

Last but not least, Google Translate is a must-have ELL resource for teachers. Google Translate lets you quickly and easily translate text, documents, and websites into different languages. This is especially useful when communicating with parents or guardians. And while Google Translate could be better, it can be a helpful tool for ELL students struggling to understand a concept or assignment.

So there you have it, tons of strategies and resources to get you started.

Remember, teaching in multicultural and multilingual classrooms requires thoughtful planning and effective teaching strategies.

These include:

  • Building relationships
  • Using culturally responsive teaching
  • Using visuals and graphic organizers
  • Encouraging language development
  • Using cooperative learning strategies

These are effective strategies for creating a supportive and engaging learning environment. With these strategies, you can help students develop their language skills and learn from each other in a diverse classroom.

Did you find this post helpful? Check out my blog post, How To Empower English Language Learners: ESL Strategies for more!

Don’t forget to Grab my 5 Foolproof Strategies to Support ELs in Your Social Studies Classes lesson bundle. It’s chock full of some of the strategies discussed in this post.

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