Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Language Ideologies and Emergent Bilingual Students



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Background: The number of emergent bilingual (EB) students is expanding very quickly in U.S. schools. They are expected to enter an idealized mainstream classroom that does not make use of their cultural and linguistic diversity (Reeves, 2004). There is a lack of preparation for teachers to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse student population. Prior research has also shown that preservice teachers do not feel well-prepared to teach EBs (Durgunoglu & Hughes, 2010). In addition, the prevailing monolingual ideologies present in the U.S. educational system negatively impact teacher practices in the classroom, which often fail to recognize and utilize their EBs’ linguistic capital as resources inside the classrooms. Language ideologies are beliefs about the superiority or inferiority of specific languages, how languages are acquired, and language contact and multilingualism (Kroskrity, 2004). Many of the challenges that educators face in teaching minority students may not be due to technical or methodological issues. Rather, they are rooted in “unacknowledged discriminatory ideologies and practices” (Bartolomé, 2008, p. ix). Purpose: This study explored elementary EC-6 generalist preservice teachers’ (PSTs) language ideologies, the factors influencing them, and their potential impact on PSTs’ instructional planning abilities for EBs. Research questions: Three research questions guided the current study: 1. What are the common and different language ideologies held by elementary PSTs enrolled in a university teacher education program at a major urban city? 2. How might current and past personal language experiences and school language experiences influence their language ideologies and pedagogical orientations? 3. How might these language ideologies influence their instructional planning abilities for emergent bilinguals? Methods: This study used a basic qualitative research design to understand the elementary EC-6 generalist PSTs’ language ideologies. Seven participants were chosen using purposeful sampling from students enrolled in an asynchronous second language methodology course in a teacher education program at an urban university in Southeastern United States. Data collection methods included semi-structured interviews and student work, namely two vblog entries and lesson plans. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-process thematic analysis was used to identify themes found from multiple data sources. Trustworthiness was achieved through triangulation, peer debriefing, member checks, and an audit trail. Findings: The findings showed how the PSTs in this study lacked ideological clarity and had conflicts between seeing home language as a problem, a right, and a resource, with their comments evoking multiple contradictory language ideologies simultaneously. These language ideologies were products of their personal, past, and current school experiences and their teaching experiences. Furthermore, PSTs’ language ideologies impacted their instructional abilities for EBs by failing to utilize their EBs’ home languages as a resource. Conclusion: The PSTs’ ideological conflicts may be associated with their schooling experiences in English-only environments where home languages were less valued or used as a resource. Thus, teacher education programs should help PSTs develop ideological clarity (Bartolomé 2004) by encouraging PSTs to constantly examine their language ideologies which may favor monolingualism and language standardization, and instead use students’ funds of knowledge as a resource in lesson planning and teaching practices.



language ideologies, elementary preservice teachers, bilingual education