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Infusing English Language Learner Issues Throughout Professional Educator Curricula: The Training All Teachers Project


by Carla Meskill - 2005

The federally funded Training All Teachers (TAT) project is an innovative program of curricular enhancement for preservice and inservice educators across disciplines. The project focuses on English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. schools and the fact that the training of school personnel in issues related to these learners' needs has not kept pace with the growing numbers of these learners. The goal of the TAT project is to increase opportunities for all pre-/inservice teachers, pupil services personnel, administrators, and other education personnel to learn about issues specific to ELLs. To these ends, School of Education faculty across departments and disciplines participated in a variety of activities designed to support integration of ELL issues into their teacher/professional graduate courses. The goals and structure of these faculty development activities and their outcomes are discussed, as well as the implications of such training.

The federally funded Training All Teachers (TAT) project is an innovative program of curricular enhancement for preservice and inservice educators across disciplines. The project focuses on English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. schools and the fact that the training of school personnel in issues related to these learners’ needs has not kept pace with the growing numbers of these learners. The goal of the TAT project is to increase opportunities for all pre-/inservice teachers, pupil services personnel, administrators, and other education personnel to learn about issues specific to ELLs. To these ends, School of Education faculty across departments and disciplines participated in a variety of activities designed to support integration of ELL issues into their teacher/professional graduate courses. The goals and structure of these faculty development activities and their outcomes are discussed, as well as the implications of such training.


New and veteran teachers alike say they do not feel very well prepared to teach effectively to . . . students from diverse cultural backgrounds. . . . The fact that new teachers report as much unease as their veteran colleagues indicates that teacher education and professional development programs are not addressing the realities found in today’s classroom.


—Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley, 1999


Core curricula for educators in training too often fall short of the depth and detail needed to successfully serve English language learner (ELL) populations. Teacher preparation coursework and professional development activities do not typically integrate issues particular to ELLs, to ELL advocacy practices, or to the development of understandings concerning the needs and strengths of this population. Although a good deal of university coursework may strive to include issues of student diversity, it often lacks systematic treatment of practical issues concerning ELLs.


The goals of the Training All Teachers (TAT) program of activities are (a) to infuse ELL issues throughout core curricula for teachers and school personnel in training and (b) to extend this knowledge into on-site partnerships with in-service practitioners and school personnel. In this way, the needs and strengths of ELL children and their families will be supported through improved understanding of and facility with ELL issues throughout the school community. Efforts to help ELL children meet higher learning standards will thus be grounded and enhanced through an increased knowledge base and accompanying conversation between and among school personnel (Adger & Locke, 2000; August & Hakuta, 1998; Burns, Griffin, & Snow, 1999; Claire, 1998; Darling-Hammond, 1997).

CONTRASTING PERSPECTIVES


At the turn of the century, nearly every teacher in U.S. schools could expect to have ELLs in her class. With the number of ELLs predicted to double by the year 2050, it is more than likely that every teacher will have ELLs in her classroom at some time. Facts such as these have prompted academic accrediting and state education agencies to require training in the many and complex issues related to linguistic-minority students (Samway & McKeon, 1999). By many accounts, however, the more complex and critical aspects of working with ELLs have merely received lip service and are often subsumed under the umbrella of local efforts at “multiculturalism” (Cummins, 2001).


Research and recommendations regarding linguistic-minority students in U.S. schools during the past decade can be viewed as divided into two distinct camps: the first, on the rightmost side, claims that the perceived and much publicized “failure” of linguistic-minority students is attributable to the students themselves, their culture, their home life, or their linguistic “deficit.” The second, on the leftmost side, claims that differential treatment of linguistic-minority students—treatment that results from widespread socioeconomic-based norms, practices, and language—is at the root of their disenfranchisement from education (see, for example, Cummins, 2001; Delpit, 1995). Central to both schools of thought are differing perceptions of power relations within given communities and the larger society and recognition within the latter that schooling cannot be a neutral process (Soto, 1997).


Both perspectives can be readily translated into the kinds of relationships one might predict would ensue among linguistic-minority students, their families, and school personnel. In school contexts in which children whose native language is not English are judged as “deficient,” one might predict labeling, segregation, and, consequently, alienation. In school contexts in which linguistic-minority children are viewed as bringing assets (another language, another culture, differing life experiences) to the community, one might predict what Pierce (1995) terms investment on the part of both learners and school personnel. Where roles and relationships between school personnel and ELLs are grounded in mutual respect, one would surmise that a prerequisite for such school personnel would be basic knowledge and understanding of second language (L2), literacy, and culture learning. In short, to be supportive of this population, school personnel need critical information and informed understanding.


Additionally, research on L2 learners underscores the benefits ELLs derive from school contexts in which personnel are well informed and correspondingly supportive of their strengths, needs, and differences (see, for example, Carter & Chatfield, 1986; Lucas, Henze, & Donato, 1990; Reyes & Laliberty, 1992) and the risks involved when the school context in general, and the instruction in particular, are impoverished (Cazden, 1986; Cummins, 1989; Reyes, 1992; Schinke-Llano, 1983). Contexts supportive of ELLs, however, tend to be the exception, not the norm. For the most part, ELLs attend schools in which training in issues related to their educational wellbeing have been fleetingly incorporated, if incorporated at all, in professional development activities. Moreover, when it comes to the linguistic, cultural, and curricular complexities involved in ELL instruction, short-term professional development interventions have been shown to be ineffectual (Claire, 1998; Penfield, 1987). After years of self-examination regarding linguistic and cultural diversity, it also remains clear that linguistic and cultural issues are neither peripheral nor incidental to relationships within schools. Professional development efforts for new and practicing school personnel face a number of tenacious challenges, many to do with the complexities of language and culture, and many to do with ingrained oversimplifications and misconceptions that do not reflect these complexities (Goodwin, 2002; Samway & McKeon, 1999).

MYTHS AND ASSUMPTIONS


A large portion of the challenge involved in preparing school personnel to work effectively in supporting ELLs involves myths held in the United States concerning language, learning language, and the English language (Light, 1997; Reyes, 1992; Soto, 1997).


A composite of major societal/conceptual challenges are displayed in Figure 1. First, there are beliefs about the English language. What Reyes (1992, p. 429) calls “the veneration of English” puts this language in a superior position to other languages and, consequently, to those who speak them. This tendency to ascribe a superior status to English is inextricably bound up with both its status as the contemporary lingua franca and its collateral as a key to economic opportunity in the United States and around the world. Such beliefs about the English language are often accompanied by the perception that those who speak a language other than English have a deficit; they are handicapped in a way that makes their chances for success poor (Valdes, 2000).


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The perception of the native language as a deficit carries over into beliefs concerning ELL children and their families as well. It underscores difference and can fuel cultural stereotyping both within school contexts and the larger society. These beliefs get transferred into and shape interpersonal patterns of communication—the “treatment” of ELLs and their families in schools. Hand in hand is the notion of quick immersion to eradicate the “problem” of the native language, a tenacious misconception that dominated discourse concerning bilingual education from the 1970s through the 1990s. Moreover, it is rarely recognized that learning an additional language is arduous enough an undertaking, but that ELLs in U.S. schools have the additional onus of learning academic English while keeping up with grade-appropriate academic content (Ioga, 1995). These myths constitute a set of overly simplistic beliefs and assumptions about language, how it is learned, and what immigrant children face in U.S. schools.


Professional development efforts concerning ELLs in U.S. schools must gently confront these often ingrained misconceptions. For the TAT Project, doing so consisted of sharing basic information with faculty in specific education courses and encouraging productive conversation. In the following section, specific activities designed for various participating faculty and students is detailed.

WORKING WITH PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR FACULTY AND STUDENTS


It is imperative that English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) professionals and all school personnel work together closely (Chamot & O’Malley, 1989; Claire, 1998; Harklau, 1994; Roache, Shore, Gouleta, & Butkevich, 2003; van Lier, 1996) and that relationships between and around linguistic-minority students be participatory and collaborative rather than segregated and divisive. For these reasons, and other reasons associated with the complex professional lives of the educators of school personnel, the TAT Project worked with faculty in the School of Education at the State University of New York at Albany in ways that modeled responsive professional development. Suggestions for the best formats in which to work came from the faculty themselves. How best to present ELL-related information and develop course syllabi also came directly from participating faculty.


In an effort to undertake curricular revision and enhancement of core courses required of all preparing and practicing classroom teachers, school administrators, counselors, and area specialists training at the university, TAT forums consisted of (a) “push-in” work, wherein ELL experts worked directly in participating faculty classrooms to infuse ELL issues on an ongoing basis; (b) group workshops with follow-on support, wherein faculty grouped by discipline were provided with knowledge and tools as a group, then individual support throughout the academic year; and (c) peer presentations, wherein graduate students specially trained in ELL issues presented tailored information to faculty and their students on demand.


The training emphasized the following broad topics:


● Language: the nature of language and its relation to society and culture;


● Acquisition: the processes of first language (L1) and L2, including best instructional strategies and accommodations;


● Culture: cross-cultural issues in schooling;


● Regulations: roles and responsibilities of schools and school personnel regarding ELL children;


● Communication: methods for communicating effectively with school personnel and parents regarding ELL children.


Additional topics of concern were determined for each of the focal groups: for example, special methods and accommodations for the teaching of mathematics to ELL children for math teacher educators, issues associated with biliteracy for reading specialists, and particular emphasis on state and federal regulations regarding ELL children for special education specialists and school administrators.

FORMATS AND MATERIAL


Table 1 outlines TAT participants, the format for their participation, and the materials that were shared with and provided to participants. At the onset of the project, School of Education department chairs were approached by TAT team members regarding their potential interest in the project. The chairs responded enthusiastically, made recommendations as to which of their departments’ courses would be most appropriate to target, and suggested specific faculty to approach concerning participation. Subsequent informal meetings with suggested faculty members were scheduled to discuss various ways in which the project could help bring ELL issues into the given subject area. In the case of the Reading Department, at the request of the department chair, part-time faculty were invited as a group to participate in an intensive workshop. Apart from these part-time faculty, 2 Counseling faculty members, and the Educational Psychology instructor, all participating faculty were tenured. In all cases, the participating faculty, teaching assistants, and TAT staff worked to tailor each workshop, push-in, and presentation to match the context and needs of each instructional situation.


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Preliminary meetings with faculty involved a review of the TAT project’s goals and discussion of how ELL issues might fit in the faculty members’ course syllabi. TAT staff and participating faculty then collaboratively located points of integration within course content as well as an appropriate schedule for push-in sessions. A typical push-in session consisted of a brief “shock therapy” activity whereby a Chinese graduate student on the TAT team would behave like a teacher while speaking only in Chinese. This was followed by a debrief on the experience of not being able to understand the language of instruction. An overview of ELL demographics in the United States, state regulations regarding the educations of ELLs, basic concepts of language and literacy acquisition, and communication strategies generally followed. This core sequence varied according to course content and input from faculty members. Subsequent topics and activities were subject-specific (e.g., accommodating ELLs in counseling, math, special education). After push-in sessions, each faculty member was supplied with overhead transparencies, handouts, and readings to use in future classes.

OUTCOMES


In part because of the complexities of such a potentially sensitive issue (individual faculty course content) and in part because of the dearth of models for working with higher education faculty on curricular enhancements, in addition to the core elements described above, project staff relied almost exclusively on planning and processes that emerged from work with individual faculty. As such, our project evaluation efforts, like our negotiations with participants, were structured to be as open-ended and responsive to individual contexts as possible.


Each of the participating faculty completed a questionnaire to assess (a) any shifts in their beliefs concerning issues related to ELL children; (b) whether and how they had integrated training session content into their curricula; and (c) additional ELL-related issues they would be interested in pursuing in subsequent trainings (see Appendix A). Additionally, 123 graduate students in participating courses completed a questionnaire concerning their knowledge of ELLs (see Appendix B).

FACULTY RESPONSES


We received responses from 5 participating faculty members: 1 in Math Education, 1 in English Language Arts (ELA) Education, 1 in Special Education, and 2 in Reading. Because of their differing professional backgrounds and past experiences working with ELLs, these 5 faculty members expressed a range of views regarding ELL issues. However, they all commented favorably concerning their involvement in TAT activities and uniformly reported considerable growth in their understanding of ELL issues.

PERCEPTIONS OF ELLS


The 5 faculty members reported having had varying perceptions of ELLs before participating in the TAT Project. The Math Education instructor had thought that ELLs were in a “sink or swim” position in the classroom without much required support from schools. Both the Special Education and the ELA Education faculty members reported that they had been familiar with various programs offered to ELLs but had not been familiar with the laws governing their education. In addition, the ELA Education instructor considered ELLs as “assets” to the classroom. She saw ELLs’ diverse cultural backgrounds as potentially enriching the learning of all students in significant ways such as, for example, bringing novel perspectives to class readings and discussions. The 2 Reading instructors, as a result of their prior experiences working with ELLs in public schools, were aware of what services and programs were available to ELLs. They also reported having been concerned about the literacy difficulties that ELLs encounter. The Special Education faculty member stated that what she had known of different approaches to working with ELLs both within and outside of Special Education she had learned from the Internet and that this information had been far from sufficient. To accommodate this need, in addition to conducting a series of push-in sessions for her teacher development classes, TAT staff provided her with a number of readings, resources, and suggested activities to support her integration of ELL issues.

REGULATIONS AND COMMUNICATION


Following their involvement in TAT, the Math Education, Special Education, and ELA Education faculty members reported a shift in their perceptions of ELLs as regards the legal responsibilities of schools and teachers for providing specialized instruction and assistance. The Math Education instructor said that she began to realize that there was a screening process and that many ELLs did qualify for assistance that their schools were required to provide. On the other hand, she mentioned that she became aware that not every ELL received adequate support: For example, those with higher levels of English language proficiency often do not receive what they need. Consequently, she considered it even more important for all teachers to design instruction based on individual learner needs. The ELA and Special Education instructors emphasized a deeper understanding of the mandated accommodations and the support programs available for ELLs. There was also acknowledgment across the board of the need for dialog between and among school personnel and ELL parents. The Special Education faculty member in particular said she planned to emphasize communications strategies concerning ELLs in her future classes.

LANGUAGE, ACQUISITION, CULTURE


The 2 Reading instructors did not think their original perceptions of ELLs had changed, but rather had been simply “reinforced.” They became “hyper-aware” of ELLs’ needs and language differences. One even reflected that she thought the “shock therapy”—the minilesson taught in Chinese only—had provided a sharp sense of frustration and made her more deeply sympathize with ELLs. She learned that even dedicated students could feel tremendous frustration at the overwhelming demands on themselves when their language proficiency and resources were limited in terms of opportunity and experience. Her comment underscores the need to sensitize teachers to the difficulties and challenges that ELLs may encounter in the classroom.

ELL ISSUES INTEGRATION


All 5 faculty members had incorporated some ELL issues into their teacher preparation courses before participating in the TAT Project; each took different perspectives on these issues. The Math Education instructor had not previously made a concerted effort to discuss ELL issues specifically but viewed these issues as subsumed under working with diverse learners in terms of learning styles. She generally placed more emphasis on the use of hands-on materials and diagrams to help children, particularly those with diverse learning styles, to learn the language and symbolism of mathematics. The ELA Education instructor had included teaching strategies for ELLs, but she did not think what she had done was sufficient. One Reading instructor had incorporated the special needs of ELLs into her course “Identifying and Correcting Reading Problems” and highlighted the understanding of the difference between ELLs’ oral English fluency and academic English proficiency. The other Reading instructor reported that, though her primary focus was on American Sign Language and deaf students acquiring English literacy, she had included the issues of L1 influences on L2 acquisition, especially as these related to literacy skills. The Special Education faculty member had used slides she had found on the Internet that gave a general overview of some issues in special education that related to ELLs.


After working with the TAT Project, these faculty expressed eagerness to expand the role of ELL issues in their future courses. When asked what ELL issues they felt were most crucial for their students to understand, they expressed diverse opinions. The Math Education instructor views classroom teachers’ responsibility to ELLs as the most critical one. She notes that these teachers cannot simply expect that ELLs’ needs will be “taken care of “ by the school district or by some pull-out program. Educators need to know what mechanisms, materials, and resources that they can draw on to help ELLs. In her future courses, she plans to provide a more detailed discussion of diverse learners, placing special emphasis on ELLs, as justification for the careful integration of manipulatives and diagrams. She expects her students to make use of the materials and suggested approaches, particularly when working with ELLs.


The ELA Education instructor still considers learning specific teaching strategies for ELLs as the most important task for novice teachers. She thinks that her students need help in planning instruction for ELL children. In addition, she regards information on laws pertaining to the education of ELLs and the standards they are required to meet especially important. She said that she would provide information on the legal responsibilities of schools and teachers as well as the resources and models for planning instruction for ELLs in her future courses.


One of the Reading faculty members highlights two critical issues for her students to learn. First, they have to understand that the range of ELLs is representative of all the kinds of English-speaking students one encounters in U.S. classrooms. ELLs can come from literate and less literate families, and they can reflect the range of strengths and weaknesses evidenced by English-speaking children. ELL children will, however, have the added challenge of learning academic content in an L2. Second, new teachers have to be aware that ELLs’ oral English fluency does not necessarily indicate that they possess the requisite literacy skills. Teachers need to realize that cognitive academic language proficiency takes considerably longer to develop (Collier, 1987, 1989).


The other Reading instructor believes it is crucial for teachers to understand the impact of L1 knowledge, preliteracy, and literacy skills on English literacy development. She emphasizes that teachers need to have positive attitudes towards ELLs’ native language and culture. She even employs personal narratives concerning L2 learners to render ELL issues more “real” for her future and practicing teachers to understand.


The Special Education instructor notes that her students in the future would greatly benefit from the knowledge she had gained through TAT regarding the need for acute cultural sensitivity when working with ELLs and their families. She also appreciates having learned about the state’s legal requirements concerning ELLs and is enthusiastic about integrating this information in her future courses. She also reports new-found respect for the arduous undertaking that is learning a new language in a new culture.

STUDENTS’ REACTIONS TO LEARNING ABOUT ELL ISSUES


The TAT Project used push-in workshops in Math, ELA, School Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education classes, where TAT trainers infused ELL issues directly through minilectures, class activities, and discussions. According to their instructors, students in these classes generally liked the workshops and thought they were successful. Indeed, all student questionnaire responses indicated that those reporting had gained new and important knowledge about ELLs. The Math Ed instructor remarks that many of her students had not thought much about ELLs. There seemed to be a reaction of “Oh, is that my responsibility? I didn’t know.” She regards this as a positive reaction in that the students began to see the need to plan instruction with an awareness of diverse students in a class. In addition, the ELA Education instructor notes that many of her students are now interested in adding certification in teaching of English as a second or other language to their certification in English.


The 2 Reading faculty, who participated in a TAT group workshop in the summer specifically designed for them, incorporated ELL issues in the courses that they taught during the fall semester. They found that their students were interested in and receptive to these issues, especially since many of them were in-service teachers in public schools teaching Latino children as well as students from other language backgrounds. However, 1 instructor was both surprised and concerned to discover that many of her students were unaware of the lag between ELLs’ oral English proficiency and academic language ability. Her observation of the students’ lack of awareness of this issue actually pushed her to put more emphasis on ELLs’ needs.


Students (n = 123) from seven of the courses taught by participating faculty completed a questionnaire concerning their knowledge and understanding of ELLs. Because of the differing content and foci of these courses and the means by which TAT content was ultimately integrated into the course by participating faculty members, responses to the project’s open-ended question concerning beliefs about ELLs differed in emphasis. Whereas all students reported growth and specific change in their understanding, the younger ELA Education students’ reports emphasized the classroom strategies that they had learned about, while the more experienced Reading and Counseling Psychology students’ reports focused on the increase in empathy for cultural differences reflected in the ELL population. For example, students frequently mentioned their appreciation of background information and practical strategies, as illustrated by the following comments:


I didn’t realize how deep the language gap goes-even where a student speaks English well, learning in English could be a problem.


I now know the responsibilities of schools and teachers [concerning ELLs].


I better understand the specific strategies I can use.


One ELA Education respondent even reported that the instructional strategies that she learned for using with ELLs could be readily applied to native speakers of English to improve their language skills: “What I learned I can use with all students, not just ELLs.” Other students emphasized the cross-cultural empathy that they had developed: “I gained respect for different cultures.”


Another marked difference in the reports is that nearly all the less experienced and novice educators stated that prior to the relevant graduate course, their knowledge about ELLs was extremely limited. As 1 older woman put it, “I had perceived them with mystery,” while a younger student who had once substituted in a class with ELLs reported she had “thought they had learned the English language previous to their entrance into the US.” Another student reported that she had “honestly thought that they were not treated well at all” and were left to fend for themselves within the system.


Graduate students with more school-based experience, on the other hand, reported having gained some sense of how ELLs were instructed in their schools. Nearly one half of this group reported an awareness of ESOL support classes in their schools, though almost as many stated that ELLs learned chiefly through “submersion”: “picking up” English by attending regular classes and interacting with native speakers. Some perceptions reported by this experienced group are clearly of dubious accuracy:


I thought ELLs went to a special school to learn English.


I thought they were trapped in ESL classes from which they could never escape.


Another believed ELLs were all placed in bilingual classrooms and “moved through the system.” (Whereas some states have experimented with separate schools and separate classes, ELLs in the state of New York are not segregated.)


Three of the more experienced, in-service students had been ELLs themselves as young children. Their responses reflected the challenges they had met as nonnative English speakers in U.S. schools and the need for the patience and support they had seen as desirable qualities in their own teachers. These qualities were all related to the empathy and understanding they recalled some teachers exercising when they as learners had struggled to understand and participate, qualities which were, of course, now required of themselves.


Student and faculty respondents both expressed surprise at learning of the legal rights of ELLs and of the laws governing the responsibilities of schools in New York to provide specific support to this population. Recent changes to these laws—including the provision that ELL scores on statewide tests be factored into overall school performance records (school report cards)—also pressed the urgency of increasing the dialogue between ESOL specialists and these future teachers. All mentioned both wanting and needing to learn more.


In terms of what was deemed most important for educators to understand about ELLs, student respondents emphasized a number of different issues. For example, participants expressed a range of reactions to the following question: “Based on what you have learned in this class about English Language Learners, what you think is the most important information for all teachers to know in working with ELLs?”:


● employ ways to compensate for ELLs’ lack of comprehension


● realize that ELLs are as capable as native English speakers


● be familiar with the ELA/ESOL standards


● know that “they are not ignorant or stupid”


● realize that “being bilingual is not a disability”


● learn and use appropriate teaching strategies


● simplify content to make it more accessible


● locate resources and information that can help


● “treat each learner with the special needs at heart”


● know the laws pertaining to ELL rights and schools’ responsibilities


● “include them [ELLs] in everything a teacher does”


This list reflects the breadth of ELL-related topics covered in TAT-targeted classes. The online Reading class and Counseling Psychology students again emphasized the need for teachers to be sensitive to and respectful of differences due to culture and the critical role these differences play in teaching and counseling processes. In addition, there was mention of the need to be supportive of the child’s family. A handful mentioned the powerful possibilities of using ELL children in class to teach other students about different cultures and perspectives. Finally, when asked what they felt they would like or need to know more about ELLs, the various groups all had similar desires. The vast majority stated that they wished more effective strategies for teaching nonnative speakers of English as well as understanding these children’s home countries and cultures.


Perhaps the most significant shift in beliefs was an overall change from not knowing very much about ELLs, from not having given thought or consideration to ELL issues, from having had limited contact with ELLS and misinformation about them, to becoming aware of and empathetic regarding the ELL experience. TAT-related course experiences appear to have provided students not only with increased awareness, but also with specific strategies for working with these children. As one young woman states, “I don’t have any [ELLs] now, but when I do in the future, I feel better prepared.” At the very least we can conclude that both the inexperienced and experienced teachers from these classes now know what the issues are, what questions to ask, and where resources can be located.


In terms of faculty, participating instructors reported undertaking integration or plans to integrate this information in their professional educator curricula and consistently underscored the need for additional efforts at integrating ELL issues for future education professionals of all kinds.

CONCLUSIONS


In the United States, education continues to suffer from the myths of accountability and the bell curve. These myths generate language that places blame on individual learners for not fitting a one-size-fits-all instructional paradigm. These myths have brought society in general, and schools in particular, to “mistaking limited experience with limited ability . . . even before the child actually arrives at the classroom door” (Allington, 1994, p. 3). Current “no child left behind” rhetoric and Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization reflect a history of reforms that have indeed left children from dominated minorities “behind” their White, middle-class counterparts. “No child left behind” rhetoric allows for just that—being “left behind” the forward-moving mainstream through no one else’s fault than the individual child’s (and her family’s, by implication). Children will continue to be left behind if the deficit camp continues a campaign of underscoring difference as deficit rather than difference as asset and will consequently perpetuate the kind of societal misconceptions that undermine supportive educational contexts for ELLs. One of the major underlying imperatives of the TAT Project is to eradicate the language of deficit in relation to ELLs through the preparation of informed school professionals.


Part of our challenge as teacher and school personnel educators, and crafters of models and materials used in educator preparation, is to teach cultural tolerance and to help those responsible for our nation’s children to unlearn racism (Cochran-Smith, 2000) and end the oppression of marginalized groups (Wallace, 2000). Such unlearning includes the various misconceptions we may have about linguistic difference. If, as Snow and Wong-Fillmore (2002, pp. 34–35) emphasize, “we expect teachers to educate whoever shows up at the schoolhouse, provide their students the language and literacy skills to survive in school and later on in jobs, to teach them all of the school subjects that they will need to know about as adults, and to prepare them in other ways for higher education and for jobs,” it is imperative that professional educator curricula integrate issues related to ELL children across the board so that non-native-English-speaking children will be served well in our schools and thus bring to an end to their “noticeable silence” (Goodwin, 2002, p. 160). The TAT Project is an effort to prepare well-informed education professionals by infusing information about ELLs throughout professional educator curricula. If this project’s reported reactions are to be taken as an overall measure of need for and interest in this type of initiative, then incorporating ELL issues throughout professional educator curricula should be made a priority.

APPENDIX A

FACULTY QUESTIONNAIRE


The Training All Teachers Project is requesting the following information from you as part of ongoing design and redesign of its training activities. Whereas answering these questions is voluntary, we urge you to do so that the project can continue to offer the kind of “push-in” workshop we offered for your class last semester. Your responses will be kept confidential and will in no way impact your status at the University.


1. Before you participated in the TAT Project, how did you perceive English Language Learners? How did you think they were educated in the US?


2. How have these perceptions changed after having participated in the TAT Project?


3. Prior to working with the TAT Project, had you incorporated issues concerning English Language Learners in your courses? If so, what issues did you include in your curriculum? How?


4. Once having worked with the TAT Project, what new information did you find important for your students to understand?


5. Which among these issues did you feel were the most critical for your students to understand?


6. Do you plan to incorporate the information provided to you by the TAT Project in future courses? If so, how?


7. How did your students react to your including English Language Learner issues in your course?


8. Any other comments or suggestions?

APPENDIX B

STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE


The Training All Teachers Project is requesting that you answer the following questions to help the Project in its work with School of Education faculty on integrating issues related to English Language Learners into courses. Answering these questions is voluntary, your responses will be kept confidential and will in no way impact your status in this or any other course, or at the University.


Age:

Gender:

Professional Area:

Course:


1. Before you took this course and learned about issues related to English Language Learners, how did you perceive English Language Learners? How did you think they were educated in the US?


2. How do you see the knowledge you gained concerning English Language Learners playing a role in your present or future teaching?


3. Based on what you have learned in this class about English Language Learners, what do you think is the most important information for all teachers to know in working with English Language Learners?


4. What don’t you know about working with English Language Learners that you think may be important?


The Training All Teachers Project is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Bilingual Education and Linguistic Minority Affairs (OBEMLA) (Award No. T195B000059-01). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the department. A version of this article was presented at the 2002 American Educational Research Association Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

REFERENCES


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Allington, D. (1994). The schools we have, the schools we need (National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement Report Series No. 1.12). Albany, NY: Center on English Learning and Achievement.


August, D., & Hakuta, K. (1998). Educating language-minority children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Burns, M., Griffin, P., & Snow, C. (Eds.). (1999). Starting out right: A guide to promoting children’s reading success. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Carter, T., & Chatfield, M. (1986). Effective bilingual schools: Implications for policy and practice. American Journal of Education, 95, 200–232.


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CARLA MESKILL is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research interests include language and technology and electronic literacies in teaching and learning, topics on which she has most recently published in Bilingual Research, Journal, Language Learning Technology, and TESOL Quarterly.




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 4, 2005, p. 739-756
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11818, Date Accessed: 1/23/2022 7:25:39 PM

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  • Carla Meskill
    University at Albany, State University of New York
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    CARLA MESKILL is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research interests include language and technology and electronic literacies in teaching and learning, topics on which she has most recently published in Bilingual Research, Journal, Language Learning Technology, and TESOL Quarterly.
 
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