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Title:Teachers' perceptions of bilingualism and bidialectalism: the effect on language arts pedagogy
Author(s):Byfield, Lavern
Director of Research:McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Harris, Violet J.; Ndimande, Bekisizwe S.; Schwandt, Thomas A.
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Elementary Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):English language learners
English language arts pedagogy
language minority students
teachers' perceptions
Abstract:Few studies on English language learners (ELLs) focus on teachers’ perceptions of bilingualism and bidialectalism and describe the impact of those perceptions on language arts pedagogy. While numerous studies have explored the teaching of diverse students and the negative effects of standardized tests on the quality instruction these students receive (Bielenberg & Wong Fillmore, 2005; Evans & Hornberger, 2005; Garcia & Bauer, 2009; Jimenez & Teague, 2009; McCarthey, 2008; Valenzuela, 2005), none of these studies have examined teachers’ perceptions of bilinguals and bidialectals and the effects of teaching them English. This research was designed to understand how teachers’ perceptions are influenced by sociocultural contexts and shape their language teaching. I draw on sociocultural theories that support the use of students’ lived experiences in the teaching/learning process (Lee, 2006; Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 2005). The funds of knowledge phenomenon (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez) and cultural modeling framework (Lee) both subscribe to the notion that language minority students have knowledge that should be validated in classrooms. A three-phased approach was used to understand how perceptions influenced teachers’ language pedagogy. For the first phase, I completed a survey with nine teachers and the principal in a multilingual school. In the second and third phases, I interviewed and observed four teachers over three months to analyze as case studies. The data showed that the teachers focused on the Hispanic students as needing language intervention and mostly overlooked the Amish students who spoke a German dialect. The study suggests that although ELLs include several language minority groups, teachers associated language minority students with being Hispanic. Essentially, teachers conflated race/ethnicity with language in the discourse about language minority students.
Issue Date:2012-09-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Lavern Georgia McLeary Byfield
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08

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