Social Studies Teachers' Perceptions of English Language Learners in the Mainstream Classroom



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Background: Have the monolingual practices of the United States contributed to the academic disparity and inept literacy levels between native English speakers and non-native English speaking students’. The number of non-English speaking students within the local public-school systems is tremendous and their literacy skills are inferior to their peers. The educators that instruct these students are often discouraged by the absence of these basic literacy skills. Purpose: The Bilingual Education Act or Title VII was purposely created to lessen the language deficiencies of non-English speaking students within the school systems, the intentions of Title VII were documented but not closely adhered to for various reasons. This study will chronicle stories, narratives and experiences from educators to share their perceptions of educating English language learner students within the mainstream classroom. Methods: Four high school social studies teachers were randomly selected to participate in this study which was conducted in three phases over a period of two months: The Teacher Demographic Questionnaire (TDQ), the initial structured interview was followed by a second interview. All interviews were transcribed and coded by constant comparison. Results: This study revealed the difficult challenges social studies teachers face daily in attending to the needs of their ELL students. Four themes revealed from coding were: (1) teacher dissatisfaction with mainstreaming ELL students within the general education classroom; (2) the lack of instructional material, resources and staff support; (3) the idea/consideration of teaching literacy as opposed to social studies content; and (4) educator personal (dis)satisfaction within the classroom. Conclusion: Four social studies teachers willingly voiced their perceptions and concerns regarding the education of ELL students within the mainstream classroom. These perceptions and concerns are noted with hopes of promoting dialogue and change in the classroom for the educator and ELL student.



Mainstream, English language learners, Social sciences, Teachers