Teaching English in a multicultural setting can be quite complex. The first thing one needs to assess is whether the setting involves one or more cultures. For example, someone teaching English on a Navajo reservation, in a dominantly Hispanic school in New Mexico, in a classroom in India, or in Japan would encounter one specific culture, while someone teaching English in Toronto, London, or New York City might encounter students from numerous different cultures.
When teaching English to students of a similar cultural background, it is important to take into account their own specific linguistic and cultural backgrounds. For example, in teaching English to Chinese students, use of articles requires additional work, because Chinese does not use articles. In such classrooms, it is also useful to highlight differences in cultural norms and behaviors between the two cultures, teaching issues such as the appropriate rhetorical strategies and how they differ and even such matters as polite modes of address and behavior.
In teaching English in a setting with people from many different cultures, it is important to respect their diverse cultural norms while simultaneously setting boundaries for acceptable practices within the classroom, such as practicing gender equality, respect for gay and transgender people, and respect for ethnic and religious diversity. Teaching materials should be selected to avoid culturally sensitive issues or assumptions.