What is cultural competence?
Cultural competence refers to a trait wherein a person is able to coordinate, work, or interact with other people that are of different cultures and social backgrounds. A person is said to be cultural competent when he/she brings efficiency in terms of dealing with people of different ethnicity or backgrounds. This particular trait is especially useful for some professions wherein people regularly meet and interact with different groups of people with different cultures. Teachers and government workers for example may need to train for cultural competence in order to effective in their work or service.
Being cultural competent doesn’t only mean that a person is able to talk or relate with other people in simple ways. Although effective communication could be a great start to learn cultural competence, simple interaction does not complete the whole sense of the subject. Cultural competence also involves total awareness of a person’s own views and culture. A person also has to fully understand what his/her views and practices are in order to fully understand the views or culture of other people. Persons also need to have the right kind of attitude when it comes to cultural differences. A certain degree of understanding and tolerance of other cultures is essential in order for one to achieve cultural competence. It also helps to continuously learn and acquire knowledge about other people’s cultures and ways in order for a person to get the big picture and really understands what cultural competence is all about. Along with knowledge acquired, gaining skills with cross-cultural activities is also important.
In the case of teachers, being culturally competent is very important when it comes to the education of students that belong to different cultures. The students themselves may not be able to adjust well with their cultural differences and practices. In this particular scenario, the role of the culturally competent teacher plays an integral part in terms of student education and social development. The concept of cultural competence also applies to government workers who are in constant contact with people of different cultures.