Title

Preservice and inservice teachers' attitudes toward English as a second language and limited English proficiency students

Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Reading and Language Arts

Advisor(s)

Kathleen Hinchman

Keywords

Preservice teachers, Diversity, New York, English as a second language, Limited English proficiency

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Education | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Reading and Language

Abstract

An important yet little understood question is, "What factors influence preservice and inservice teachers' attitudes toward diversity?" This question is important because the current and future teaching forces will be affected greatly by the problem of managing diverse student populations in classrooms. More specifically, current demographic data suggests that preservice and inservice teachers' backgrounds do not match those of their students. Research has also shown that teachers' experiences and attitudes toward diverse learners influence their ability to create effective instruction for learners. However, research has been unclear in helping us understand teachers' attitudes toward ESL/LEP students specifically. Thus, the purpose of the study was to examine preservice and inservice teachers' attitudes toward ESL students, as well as the factors that influence these attitudes.

Subjects were preservice teachers in teacher education programs in two different upstate New York universities, and inservice teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools in two upstate New York school districts. These subjects completed an extensive survey with results analyzed using a variety of statistics.

These results suggest that preservice and inservice teachers, in general, have positive attitudes toward teaching ESL students. Those with more positive attitudes also have more general educational experiences related to diversity and ESL training than preservice and inservice teachers who have less positive attitudes. Furthermore, preservice and inservice teachers who have more positive attitudes toward ESL students tend to complete at least one course in multicultural education, are exposed to ESL-related college classes, or participate in inservice workshops. Also, preservice and inservice teachers who have personal multicultural experiences show more positive attitudes than preservice and inservice teachers who do not have these experiences. That is, those who live outside the U.S., teach outside the U.S., or host foreign exchange students are found to have more positive attitudes toward teaching ESL students. The implications of this study are discussed in terms of future research, as well as the preparation of future teachers.

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