“Before we can begin to understand others, however, we need to understand ourselves and what we
bring to our interactions with others. For this reason, it is important for teachers interested in learning
more about other cultural groups to first look inward” (Hidalgo, 1993, p.99).
TESOL/CAEP Standards Addressed by the Assignment
Standard 2 - Culture As It Affects Student Learning: Candidates know, understand, and use major
concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the nature and role of culture and cultural groups
to construct supportive learning environments for ELLs.
In this assignment, you will describe, analyze, and reflect on the deep-rooted, cultural features of your
own background. This is as personal as an academic assignment can get, so be conscious of your comfort
level when choosing the experience(s) you wish to share. At the same time, this assignment is meant to
provide you with the opportunity to look at your experiences honestly and sincerely, so you will likely feel
some discomfort. Your instructor will appreciate your full and authentic engagement in this task, and
please know that only the instructor will be reading your paper.
As you plan, think of this paper as having three (3) parts: (1) a narrative description, (2) an analysis, and
(3) a reflection. Your cultural autobiography should be 3 to 5 double-space typed pages following APA
format (reference page not included in this number). Include a short, clear introduction paragraph to
introduce your main thesis, and then follow the introduction paragraph with the three (3) main sections
of your paper. Please use the following three (3) subheadings (after your introduction paragraph) to
organize your paper. Make sure to have a consistent ‘thread’ or thesis/argument through your paper,
and please proofread!
Narrative of Important Experiences (1-2 pages)
First, narrate the experiences that you consider significant in shaping your ‘lens’ (aka worldview). You
may include typical or exceptional events from your childhood, school years, religious life, family life,
encounters with individuals of various backgrounds, etc. You may also want to think about how your
race, ethnicity, class, family background, religious beliefs, and/or gender may have shaped your life.
Rather than providing a “laundry list” of experiences and elements of your identity, choose one (1) or two
(2) experiences to discuss, that are most salient to your worldview and work as an ESL/bilingual teacher.
The following questions might help as you think of some things to write about:
What experiences have you had in life or in school that made you realize something important
about how you view the world?
What experience have you had that made you change your views of other cultures, races,
genders, religions, etc., and what does this say about how you were raised?
What experiences have you (or someone you know) had with racism or other forms of