ERIC Identifier: ED447724
Publication Date: 2000-12-00
Author: Gonzalez, Josue E. - Darling-Hammond, Linda
ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Programs That Prepare Teachers To Work Effectively with
Students Learning English. ERIC Digest.
Schools and teacher education programs have begun to rethink pre-service and
in-service professional development to take into account the need for teachers
to work effectively with students learning English. New approaches to teacher
education are based on the belief that English language learners' access to
challenging content can be enhanced through teaching strategies that provide
multiple pathways to the understanding of language and content. Because students
must use language to acquire academic content in mainstream classes, second
language teaching must be integrated with the social, cultural, and political
contexts of language use.
This digest provides a summary of some of the problems associated with
traditional teacher education and describes pre-service and in-service programs
that prepare teachers to work effectively with English language learners.
TRADITIONAL TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
A number of problems
have traditionally plagued second language teacher education programs, including
those described below.
to see the interconnectedness between first and second languages and cultures"
Schools and teacher education programs often focus on pushing students to
work rapidly and unrealistically to acquire fluent English without attention to
continued first language development. This approach minimizes the connections
between first and second language development and reduces the potential for
advancement in both languages. Inattention to the first language development of
non-English speakers is also detrimental to their academic achievement. Teacher
preparation programs should help future teachers to integrate second language
development with first language development and to recognize the uniqueness and
value of specific languages and cultures.
and isolation of language teaching and learning"
In many schools and teacher education programs, English as a second language
(ESL), bilingual, foreign language, and language arts programs are the
responsibility of distinctly separate administrative departments. This
fragmentation isolates teachers and makes it difficult for them to communicate
across programs and to benefit from communication across disciplines.
Teacher education programs often focus on the components of language, such as
phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. This narrow view overlooks the
social nature of language as a tool for communication and a mechanism through
which content can be explored and examined. Language study is generally
decontextualized and unrelated to the lives of students, their school, or the
community, and much of language instruction is grammar driven.
focus on methodology"
Historically, preparation programs for foreign language and ESL teachers have
placed emphasis on instructional methods rather than on the what, why, and who
of second language instruction. Tedick and Walker (1994) argue that this
concentration on methodology has made second language instruction teacher
centered, because it focuses on the ways in which the teacher best organizes,
presents, and assesses success with lessons. Such a narrow focus has insulated
second language teachers from the growing knowledge about language in the fields
of adult education, literacy development, and early childhood education. This
knowledge supports a view of language development as "an integrated, generative
process in which the learner is an active agent" (p. 306).
between language and culture"
Prospective second language teachers need to have knowledge about language
development, but they also need a clear understanding of themselves and their
students as cultural beings. They should be aware of the variety of world views
espoused by participants in the target culture and the native culture, and of
the need to view both cultures from a number of perspectives. Such insights
cannot be achieved by simply adding more culture courses to the teacher
education curriculum. Instead, just as culture must be an integral part of
second language pedagogy, it must also be an integral part of teacher education
programs, including attention to school culture and classroom ecology (Tedick
& Walker, 1994, p. 309).
PRESERVICE TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
programs designed specifically to prepare teachers to work effectively with
immigrant students are the Second Languages and Cultures Education Program at
the University of Minnesota and the Cross-Cultural Language and Academic
Development Program at San Diego State University.
Languages and Cultures (SLC) Education Program, University of Minnesota"
This post-baccalaureate program encompasses both foreign language and ESL
teacher preparation. The combination seeks to lessen fragmentation in the field
of language learning and isolation of language teachers.
The SLC program is based on the philosophical tenets that "teachers and
students both act as knowers and learners in an active, experiential, and
integrative process; that teaching is context sensitive; and that reflection is
a cornerstone in teacher development" (Tedick & Walker, 1995, p. 503).
Students begin their field experiences in classrooms while continuing to take
courses on campus. Students explore issues and questions in 10 areas: language
and culture; the language learner; integration of curriculum, instruction, and
learner characteristics; theory and research bases for second language teaching
and learning; school culture and second languages; personal development as a
teacher; assessment; language and cultural diversity; research; and intensive
classroom experience at both the elementary and secondary levels.
Students in the SLC program are organized into cohort groups, referred to as
"a community of developing teachers," where they work together and share
experiences. These cohort groups are further divided into "base groups" and
"feedback session groups." A graduate assistant usually facilitates the base
group and keeps close contact with teaching candidates through conferences,
journals, and on-site visits and observations. Through base groups, students are
able to share their experiences with one another and get feedback on their work.
In the feedback sessions, developing teachers view micro-teaching videos
(focused on one element of their own or others' classroom practice) and more
globally oriented videos of their actual teaching in the schools. In addition,
students participate in work days set aside for group projects. Graduates
continue to be members of cohort groups for their first year of teaching,
participate together in monthly seminars at the university, and engage in action
research projects leading to their Master's degree in education.
Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development Program (CLAD), San Diego State
This pre-service teacher education program seeks to prepare teachers to work
with English language learners where bilingual programs are not available or to
work in the English component of a bilingual program. Pedagogical strategies
include Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE), also called
sheltered instruction. Instruction in a subject area is delivered in English by
a content-area-certified teacher using techniques designed to provide English
learners access to the curriculum. This is increasingly important at the
secondary school level, where students may otherwise be denied access to core
Content courses in mathematics, social studies, science, reading, and
language arts include attention to culture and pedagogical methods for new
English language learners. Other requirements include a course on the
psychological foundations of education, with an emphasis on culture, language,
and language acquisition, and student teaching experiences and seminars.
Students are placed in a school for at least one semester with a master teacher
who has obtained a Language Development Specialist certificate or credential and
has a significant number of new English learners in class.
The CLAD program aims to develop future teachers' knowledge in the following
Cultural awareness. This component focuses on issues of cultural diversity;
assimilation; and relationships among cultural diversity, educational equity,
academic achievement, and socioeconomic status.
Theoretical knowledge. Students learn about language phonology, morphology and
syntax, first and second language acquisition, the structure and role of
language in social settings, philosophy and theory of bilingual and bicultural
education, techniques and materials in ESL instruction, and the effects of
attitudes and motivation in learning.
Content knowledge. Students complete an undergraduate major in an academic
content area before being admitted to the pre-service program.
Knowledge of pedagogical methods. This includes learning about Total Physical
Response, the Natural Approach, content-based instruction, cooperative learning,
and whole language teaching strategies.
Fieldwork. This includes practice teaching, classroom observations, and
INSERVICE TEACHER DEVELOPMENT
"The International High
School, New York City"
This school serves recent immigrants to the United States and accepts only
students who have been in the country for 4 years or less and who score in the
lowest 21% on the English Language Battery Exam. The school is small, with
approximately 460 students from over 50 countries, speaking over 35 languages.
The program emphasizes interdisciplinary team teaching, small-group student
collaboration, and English and native language learning through study of
academic content. Four fundamental building blocks make up the school's
philosophy: (1) a linguistic methodology that assumes that language skills are
best learned through the use of content material in context; (2) a commitment to
both English and native language development; (3) heterogeneous small-group
student collaboration on experiential, activity-based projects; and (4)
small-group faculty collaboration on both instructional planning and school-wide
The last building block--institutionalized collaboration among teachers and
administrators--led to the faculty's willingness to take collective
responsibility for their own professional development. Staff committees oversee
a process of planning school-wide colloquia, seminars, and peer review. Teachers
write their own self-evaluations periodically, which are added to peer and
Exchanges such as faculty presentations, summer staff development institutes,
and informal visits among classrooms have benefited from the varied experience
of the faculty. Teachers with backgrounds in ESL, bilingual education, and other
content areas complement each others' strengths. The school has an explicit
policy to document its practices and approaches in writing. Proposals,
handbooks, curriculum guides, and a school journal provide other means of
sharing ideas about teaching and learning among the staff.
The staff development process follows a few rules of thumb to guide teachers
in their instructional planning and delivery.
Start at the beginning. This suggests that assignments not assume student
familiarity with matters that would be obvious to U.S. students, such as how to
use a book to find information.
Break down the task. This implies that longer (e.g., 2- or 3-week) projects be
broken down into smaller segments, each of which is demonstrated with an example
before students themselves carry out the task.
Use models. This includes modeling examples of finished assignments as well as
the process that leads to the finished product.
The programs described in this digest illustrate
several principles for the professional development of teachers working with
English language learners. They need occasions to connect theory and practice in
tightly integrated ways; support in learning how to understand what students
bring to the classroom; concrete strategies that shape collaborative learning
environments and build on students' language, culture, and experience; ongoing
opportunities for collaboration and collective problem solving; and experiences
that allow them to learn and work professionally in the same ways that they hope
to teach. Building teacher preparation programs and school learning communities
that provide these kinds of opportunities for language teachers is one of the
most important investments that society can make in the education of immigrant
Tedick, D.J., & Walker, C.L. (1994). Second
language teacher education: The problems that plague us. "Modern Language
Journal, 78," 300-311.
Tedick, D.J., & Walker, C.L. (1995). From theory to practice: How do we
prepare teachers for second language classrooms? "Foreign Language Annals, 28,"