Skip Navigation

Language and culture

This section is to provide staff with information about cultural and religious customs around food and drink and to consider:

  • Consider catering options when planning events and trips ensuring that students have a range of choice, and options for specific dietary options in line with religious and cultural beliefs.
  • Consider events taking place in different venues and locations and not always in the bar area to ensure all students can feel included and involved regardless of cultural background.
  • Consider having a varied offer of cuisines from around the world for students and staff to sample.
  • When planning events, consider religious festivals and events that may be taking place at the time that may involve fasting, and ensure students who are fasting between certain hours are catered for during the time they are allowed to eat and drink for example; Ramadan (see religious events calendar).

Oh gosh and on one trip we went on as a course, when we were getting given our food by the lecturers, one of them said to me, oh that’s not halal, I don’t think you’ll want to eat that. I can. They make assumptions because of how I look, they assume I’m Muslim.

Alcohol

Fasting

Halal

Jhatka

Kosher

Lacto-vegetarian

Utensils

This section is to provide staff with information about cultural and religious festivals, what they are, and why they are celebrated. It is not a comprehensive list of all religious and cultural festivals but aims to provide information to raise staff awareness about them, to promote an inclusive and diverse culture on campus.

Chinese New Year

Diwali

Christmas

Eid

Hannukah

Hogmanay

Thanksgiving

Funerals and mourning

This section is to provide staff with information and awareness of the challenges of multi-lingual students, particularly students whose first language is not English, and to consider appropriate and inclusive language for documents, reports, and emails.

Appropriate use of language

The BAME acronym

Spelling of names

I think the University needs to develop a way of working that ensures staff don’t work in an assumptive way. Acknowledging that students can be from a different country, or speak a different language, or have a different culture…

I did feel really alone and quite isolated when I arrived.

It is important to consider that some students may speak more than one language, and English may not be their first language. Despite how fluently students may be able to speak English if it is not their first language, they may still experience challenges.

Students who speak more than one language, particularly where English is not their first language may experience challenges with some activities such as group discussions. They may appear reserved and not contributing as freely – this may be because they lack confidence despite their academic capability, they may feel it is more difficult to speak out in groups. Talking to students individually about this and what support can be offered can be helpful.

When students are speaking English when it is not their first language, they may find it difficult to be understood. It is important to be patient and supportive in trying to understand when they are talking with you, and to encourage other students to do the same.

Some students may feel a lack of confidence because of language barriers and may find it difficult to make friends and socialise with other students and peers. Encourage students to link in with various groups and activities such as That Thursday Thing, the Students’ Union and the Multi-Cultural Society to promote opportunities for socialising with their peers.

When considering using subtitles on videos, ensure where possible that the speed the captions appear on screen is not too fast, so that students whose first language is not English have time to read them.

Mental health and mental illness can mean different things in different cultures. There is often stigma and shame about mental health that can be influenced and compounded by cultural and or religious beliefs. In some cases, language used to describe some mental illnesses is not easily translated. Some cultures hold beliefs around mental illness being linked to witchcraft or the supernatural, and culturally ‘treatment’ for this would be sought through what would be considered ‘alternative practices’ in western culture such as homeopathy, Chinese medicine, or spiritual healers.

Western practices for supporting mental health are more often based on psychological theories and focus on talking therapies, and medical intervention such as medication.

It is important to be aware of cultural beliefs about mental health when offering support to students. Talk to them about how they are feeling, and what support they may have been offered (if any) already. Find out how they would feel about being offered support and if there are any concerns they may have about being referred to the Wellbeing team, for example. This will allow the student to talk openly and provide you with some insight into potential barriers to their accessing support.

The student would need to consent to being referred to the Wellbeing team, unless you felt the student was an imminent risk to themselves or someone else. For more information on how to support and refer a student for mental health support please see our Mental Health Toolkits.

This section provides some guidance for staff to consider ways to embed and promote cultural diversity, as well as support students from all cultures on their academic journey at Edge Hill.

Careers

Curriculum diversification

Loneliness or isolation

Marketing and imagery

Money advice

UniSkills

  • Check the spelling and pronunciation of a student’s name if you are not sure.
  • Consider catering options when planning events and trips ensuring that students have a range of choice, and options for specific dietary options in line with religious and cultural beliefs.
  • Be conscious of the venue you’re hosting student events in and whether alcohol is available, so all students can feel included and involved regardless of cultural background.
  • If you are creating marketing imagery for your faculty/department and/or using images in your lecture content, try to use diverse images where appropriate.
Back to family origin, ethnicity and religion toolkit homepage