I am currently taking a first year programming course, and I am curious as to whether it would be considered appropriate to ask questions related to general concepts and home work questions which I have attempted but require guidance with. Obviously my first resource is my programming teacher; however, he is frequently not available, and very difficult to understand due to a significant language barrier. I am asking meta if questions of this nature would be appropriate to avoid down votes and closed threads; thank you for your comments.
Assuming that your question falls within the guidelines in our FAQ for what is considered on-topic and that your question makes it clear what you have already tried or already considered, I don't see why a question would not be allowed simply because it's a homework issue.
Also relevant is a discussion about homework questions on Programmers.
Thomas Owens answer is great, but I also would like to add that is important that you do not ask things that are quite obviously common knowledge.
What does this mean?
If I can very clearly see the answer as the first or second result of a Google search then it is too simple of a question. If this answer itself confuses you, then ask specifically what it is about this answer that you find confusing. At the very least if it has been asked before then we can direct you to the duplicate question.