ERIC Identifier: ED477724
Publication Date: 2002-09-00
Author: Antunez, Beth
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
The Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers of
English Language Learners. ERIC Digest.
The population of school-aged English language learners (ELLs) has
consistently and significantly increased over the past decade, transforming
America's public schools, the instruction of its students, and the preparation
of its teachers. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires there be a
"highly qualified" teacher in every classroom by the end of 2005, and school
districts and teacher preparation institutions across the nation face the
challenge of preparing and hiring large numbers of teachers while retaining a
focus on quality. This digest will discuss the need for increasing the numbers
of teachers of ELLs and the particular linguistic and academic characteristics
THE SUPPLY AND DEMAND OF TEACHERS FOR ELLS
1999-2000 school year, 4.4 million students were identified as English language
learners (ELLs) in pre-K through 12 public schools. This number represents 9
percent of public school enrollment and a 27 percent increase over the 1997-98
enrollment (Kindler, 2002). In urban school districts, ELLs account for 21
percent of students (Recruiting New Teachers, Inc., 2002).
ELLs are defined as students whose first language is not English and who are
in the process of learning English. According to a 1999-2000 survey, over 400
native languages are spoken by the ELL school-age population (Kindler, 2002).
The term ELL is often used interchangeably with "limited English proficient"
(LEP). Implicit in the definition is that ELLs' English language proficiency is
insufficient to academically succeed in English-only classrooms (Lessow-Hurley,
1991). Also implicit is that ELLs have different linguistic and academic needs
from the mainstream school population, and that ELLs require teachers qualified
to address these needs.
Within the context of the nationwide need to hire teachers, which is
projected at 2.2 million or more over the next decade (National Center for
Education Statistics, 1998; Hussar & Gerald, 1996; The White House, 2002),
the need for teachers of ELLs is particularly acute due to this population's
rapid increase and the additional qualifications required of these teachers.
According to the Urban Teacher Challenge Report (Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.,
2002), 73 percent of the urban districts surveyed had an immediate demand for
bilingual education teachers, while 68 percent had an immediate demand for
English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers.
Currently, 41 percent of teachers in the U.S have taught ELLs, while less
than 13 percent of U.S. teachers have received any training or professional
development on teaching these students (National Center for Education
Statistics, 2002). These figures are alarming in light of the fact that
researchers and teacher educators have agreed that teachers of ELLs need at
least the following knowledge and skills in order to effectively meet the needs
of their students:
* understanding of the basic constructs of bilingualism and second language
* nature of language proficiency;
* role of first language and culture in learning;
* demands that mainstream education places on culturally diverse learners;
* capacity to make academic content accessible;
* ability to integrate language and content instruction;
* respect for and incorporation of students' first language in instruction;
* understanding of how differences in language and culture affect students'
* needs and characteristics of students with limited formal schooling;
* understanding and ability to address students from families with little
exposure to the norms of U.S. schools; and
* belief in students as individuals for limited English proficiency and that
limited academic skills are not deficiencies
1993, 2000, Menken & Look, 2000, p. 22-23, Walqui, 1999).
REQUIREMENTS FOR PREPARING TEACHERS OF ELLS
through which ELLs are currently being served can be divided into bilingual
education, ESL, and mainstream education. Requirements for teacher preparation
within each of these programs can differ depending on a variety of factors.
However, bilingual education programs generally require teachers trained in and
competent to teach students through their native language as well as English;
ESL programs require teachers trained to teach English reading, writing,
speaking and listening skills to ELLs; and mainstream programs conduct all
instruction in English and do not, normally, require teachers to be trained to
teach ELLs. For more information on the characteristics of bilingual education
and ESL programs, see http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/askncela/22models.htm.%20
Preparation is further complicated in that not all states provide
certification in bilingual education and/or ESL. According to a 1999 survey of
State Education Agencies, 39 states and the District of Columbia offer ESL
teacher certification or endorsement, while 24 states and the District of
Columbia offer bilingual/dual language teacher certification or endorsement
(McKnight & Antunez, 1999). In states that do not offer bilingual education
or ESL certification, it is unclear what sorts of preparation teachers of ELLs
are receiving to enable them to meet the linguistic and academic needs of their
ADDRESSING THE NEED: GUIDANCE
organizations have addressed the issue of teacher preparation by creating
standards to delineate what teachers of ELLs should know and be able to do. The
following organizations have all developed such standards:
* Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE):
Standards for Effective Teaching Practice (1998)
* National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE): Professional
Bilingual/Multicultural Teachers (1992)
* National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS): English as a
New Language Standards (1998)
* Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): Pre-K-12 ESL
Teacher Education Standards (forthcoming)
These standards include such elements as proficiency in two languages, an
understanding of the impact of students' cultures on their learning, and how to
assist students in the development of their language abilities. Increasingly,
standards are being used as the foundation for state licensure, teacher
preparation and professional development programs to ensure that these programs
are inclusive of the ELL population (Menken & Holmes, 2000).
In addition to these organizations' standards, the American Association of
Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), an organization of colleges and
universities with teacher preparation programs, has adopted a resolution
entitled Preparing Teachers for Second Language Learners. Intended to guide its
member colleges and universities, the resolution addresses the preparation of
all teachers for second language learners. To read the resolution, go to:
Another guidance instrument, from the Center for Research on Education,
Diversity and Excellence (CREDE) is The National Directory of Teacher
Preparation Programs (Preservice and Inservice) for Linguistically and
Culturally Diverse Students. This directory identifies exemplary programs of
professional teacher preparation that address, promote, and implement
professional preparation for teachers in culturally and linguistically diverse
classrooms. It includes a typology that divides and provides characteristics of
the range of programs that prepare teachers for linguistically and culturally
diverse classrooms into the following seven categories:
* General education with a multicultural emphasis
* Multicultural education
* English as a second language
* English language development and multicultural education
* Bilingual/bicultural education
* Bilingual/multicultural education
* Bilingual/biliterate/multicultural/bicultural education.
access the directory, go to
While the ELL population rapidly and steadily
increases, so too does the need for a teaching force prepared to effectively
meet the linguistic and academic needs of this population. The unique knowledge
and skills needed in the successful preparation of teachers for this population
have been identified. Efforts are now being concentrated in the implementation
of programs that incorporate the elements of effective preparation and
professional development of teachers of ELLs.
Center for Research on Education, Diversity and
Excellence (2001). National Directory of Teacher Preparation (Preservice and
Inservice) Programs for Teachers of Linguistically and Culturally Diverse
Students. Santa Cruz: CREDE.
Clair, N. (1993). Beliefs, self-reported practices and professional
development needs of three classroom teachers with language minority students.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University, New
Hussar, W. & Gerald, D. (1996) Projection of education statistics to
2006. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. [Online]
Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsold/pj2006/projhil.html%20[2001, July 18].
Kindler, A. (2002). Survey of the States' Limited English Proficient Students
and Available Educational Programs and Services: 1999-2000 Summary Report.
Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and
Language Instruction Educational Programs.
Lessow-Hurley, J. (1991). A Commonsense Guide to Bilingual Education.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
McKnight, A. and Antunez, B. (1999). State Survey of Legislative Requirements
for Educating Limited English Proficient Students. Washington, DC: NCBE.
Menken, K. & Holmes, P. (2000). Ensuring English language learners'
success: Balancing teacher quantity with quality. Washington, DC: NCBE.
Menken, K. & Look, K. (2000, February). Meeting the needs of
linguistically and culturally diverse students. Schools in the Middle.
Washington, DC: National Association of Secondary School Principals.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2002). 1999-2000 Schools and
staffing survey: Overview of the Data for Public, Private, Public Charter and
Bureau of Indian Affairs Elementary and Secondary Schools. Washington, DC: U.S.
Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
Success for English Language Learners: Teacher Preparation Policies and
Practices. California Council on the Education of Teachers, 2001.
Torres-Guzm n, M. & Goodman, A.L. (1995). Urban bilingual teachers and
national standards: Mentoring for the future. Education and Urban Society, 28,
The Urban Teacher Challenge Report. (2002). Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.
Walqui, A. (1999, July) Professional development for teachers of English
language learners. Paper presented at an invitational conference sponsored by
the National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board, the Office of
Educational Research and Improvement, and the Office of Bilingual Education and
Minority Languages Affairs, Washington, DC.
The White House. (2002). White House Fact Sheet: A Quality Teacher in Every
Classroom. [Online] Available:
http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/03-2002/wh-020304.html%20[2002, April 29].