A study of attitudes: Mexican American and Anglo American elementary teachers' judgements of Mexican American bilingual children's speech



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The purpose of this study was to determine if differences existed in teachers' attitudes toward Mexican American speakers of minimally accented, moderately accented, and highly accented English speech, and if attitudes differed between Anglo American and Mexican American teachers. The study also examined the teachers' formal study in the Spanish language in relation to their attitudes toward children exemplifying three degrees of accentedness in English speech. One hundred elementary teachers from four schools in two geographical locations in Texas comprised the research sample for this study. Fifty-two Anglo American and 48 Mexican American teachers reacted to each of nine speech samples on the Semantic Differential Instrument. The speech samples used exemplified three degrees of accentedness (as categorized by a panel of judges). The speech, exhibited by free and spontaneous responses (controlled for content), was that of third and fourth grade Mexican American children from low socioeonomic families who were: (a) native Spanish-speakers; (b) bilingual English/Spanish-speakers, and (c) successful students. After listening to an audiotape of each speaker, the teachers evaluated the child on 20 bipolar adjectival scales. These scales were intended to reflect distinctions among the characteristics of the nine speakers. The data collected were a result of sessions held by the investigator. Each teacher was involved in only one session. To determine the judgmental dimensions in the Semantic Differential Instrument, a series of factor analyses were undertaken. The results indicated consideration of the SDI as one judgmental model and was used as the major focus of the study. The model was labeled Global Student Characteristics because its variables characterized the speaker as a student. Additionally, three minor judgmental models were identified, and were considered for comparison with the major judgmental model in the study. [...]