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Guidance for working with Asian communities

Recommendations on ways schools can work effectively with Asian communities

The following suggestions are to assist your school to engage with its Asian students, families and communities through social, cultural and curriculum-based activities.
Being Asia aware is “about developing a shared understanding of the importance of preparing students to engage with Asia in their lifetime."

School-wide environment

A multi-faceted approach that involves the whole school – curricular and co-curricular learning – and includes fostering social connections with wider school/Asian communities.

  • Gather together the collective expertise within the school – students and teachers who possess Asian cultural and religious affiliations, community links, language skills.
  • Undertake professional development for educators – language and culture; and offer opportunities for teacher exchange.
  • Develop a prominent multicultural attitude within the school:
    • use multi-language greetings and signage
    • offer multiple language options on the school website and/or for any important school correspondence to parents/caregivers, for example, enrolment forms etc
    • display country flags that represent student cultural heritage and similar artwork
    • extend food options in school canteen
    • support religious practices – for example, provide a prayer room.
  • Have international students on the school roll.
  • Include major Asian celebrations and festivals in the school calendar.
  • Make connections to global school networks through ICT.
  • Provide teacher support/liaison for co-curricular clubs – an additional setting for Asia based learning.

Assisting Asian students – new to the school and/or to the country – and their parents feel accepted and welcome is an important undertaking for the school. Ensure that there are open modes of communication and a secure environment to encourage students to share their cultures and languages.

Management and BOT

Provide active support and encouragement for teachers/staff in gaining necessary skills and knowledge to teach Asian themes and engage confidently with Asian communities.

  • Employ ESOL teachers/an ESOL programme. Students for whom English is a second language can be assisted to transition into school by meeting with trained ESOL teachers, and/or those experts with language and community awareness. A familiar association with their own language can help with integration into a new school and/or environment.
  • Employ Asian teachers/staff where possible.
  • Have Asian student representation on the BOT/within student board.
  • Provide a teacher/cultural expert for pastoral care for Asian students.
  • Provide representation and support from the Principal/management for Asian parent groups.
  • Develop policies and practices that reflect the importance of learning about Asia.
  • Ensure professional development and resources are available to school leaders.


Schools can incorporate Asia based content into their teaching and learning by using it as a context for integrated learning and for future-focused themes.

  • Embed Asia themes across the curriculum – students can obtain knowledge about Asian countries, languages, customs and culture.
  • Promote Asian languages in the curriculum; offer a bi-weekly language class hosted by a staff member or local community language teacher, for example, Chinese, Korean.
  • Provide a selection of Asia themed books for the library/classroom.
  • Utilise online Asia education resources (see Resource list).
  • Develop an Asia themed workshop or cultural period where students can pick from a selection of activities with an Asia cultural option, for example, Korean fan dance, martial arts. This could be taught or advised on by an expert from the local community. Tie in with relevant festival, for example, Lion Dance class before Lantern Festival celebration.
  • Include Asia events and festivals/holidays into the school/class calendar to develop students’ understanding of Asian cultures and languages, for example, the Chinese Lantern Festival.


Co-curricular activities support and develop cultural understanding and Asia knowledge within the school and wider community.

  • Celebrate and participate in significant Asia cultural holidays and celebrations.
  • Develop after school workshops/an after-school club (see snapshot #1) that focuses on various Asian customs, traditions, food, dance, music, language etc. Involvement in co-curricular activities helps to develop students’ key competencies.
  • Foster and encourage the formation of cultural groups, for example, Lion Dance, Bharatanatyam dance, Korean Percussion Group.
  • Host school-based events that celebrate Asia festivals and have input from within the school/wider cultural community, for example, Race relations day, food festivals, flag festival, Lantern festival.
  • Undertake school exchanges to Asia – provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves into the daily life of a school/local community; host overseas students in return (see snapshot #4).
  • Foster sister school relationships. This could be supported through Sister City agreements established by your town or city.
  • Organise class trips to significant cultural destinations or to local festivals/events where students/teachers can experience many cultural elements first-hand.


Networking with family and community aids cultural connections and fosters ties to the school, creating networks within Asian communities and other organisations to support Asian students and the school.

  • Invite cultural/subject matter experts from regional communities to assist with the development of teaching and learning plans; to speak to students about cultural, religious and social traditions; to teach, assist or oversee co-curricular club groups/workshops. (See snapshot #1 – Master Tseng.)
  • Employ a cultural counselor/liaison person from the community who possesses the language skills and interest to make a difference.
  • Have a database of interpreters from the community and a register of all languages spoken within the wider school community.
  • Offer community education programmes for both Asian and non-Asian groups.
  • Undertake community consultation.
  • Support and encourage parents’ groups/networks (see snapshot #2 and #3) that encourage involvement in the school community:
    • provide an area within the school for groups to meet and offer refreshments
    • offer topics for discussion, for example, school processes, exams and assessment, activities etc and/or guest speakers
    • have the principal or senior staff and an interpreter attend.
  • Encourage parents/caregivers to become involved in assisting with the coordination of cultural events and/or co-curricular, teaching and learning activities.

How students can actively participate in community celebrations

Students can be encouraged to participate in and support community celebrations/festivals in many ways.

  • Incorporate Asia themed teaching and learning into the curriculum and through co-curricular activities, whereby the school is embracing and celebrating its cultural diversity and providing a platform for Asian students to develop and explore their own cultural identity while sharing the experience of another culture with students and the wider school.
  • Undertake an in-class study of Asian nations, their customs and belief systems, food, clothing, festivals and celebrations. Develop projects around elements of celebratory custom (for example, dance) and how they relate to specific festival celebrations (for example, Lion Dance and Chinese Lantern festival).
  • Inspire students’ imagination by hosting guest speakers/subject experts who can perform/teach traditional elements of celebratory custom, for example, dance, martial arts etc and/or can assist with the development of teaching and learning plans; speak to students about cultural, religious and social traditions; teach or oversee co-curricular club groups/workshops.
  • Look at how major Asian festivals are celebrated in New Zealand and develop an annual Celebrations Calendar, listing ways the class will mark each occasion (in-class or attending a community event etc).
  • Organise and host, as a class, school-based events such as a race relations day, food festival, flag festival, Lantern festival etc.
  • Volunteer as a class to assist with festival preparations for a regional event.
  • Take a class trip to a significant cultural destination or local festival/event where students/teachers can experience many cultural elements first-hand.
  • Learn an Asian language – the school could provide a language expert from the regional community, or may already have a language expert on staff.
  • Encourage students to become a member of a co-curricular club/after school activity or take part in a short workshop that involves learning about an aspect of Asian cultural significance (see snapshot #1 – Macleans College umbrella ‘Intercultural club’). Clubs/performance groups could put on public performances for regional schools and the local community, participate in national competitions and fundraise for charity.

Encouraging students to become involved in the external community and to support/participate in community initiatives/festivals/events, helps to develop a sense of pride and purpose through contribution to their regional community. Students can also assist, through these events, to further educate the wider public audience, increasing cultural awareness.

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