Considering Diversity in L2 Teacher Education

Considering Diversity in L2 Teacher Education

Sheri K. Dion (University of New Hampshire, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8543-5.ch008


This chapter presents a discussion of how teacher candidates can develop an awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and supports students of diverse backgrounds in second language (L2) teaching. Buoyed with a narrative inquiry involving 17 L2 teachers at one independent secondary school in the Northeastern United States, Geneva Gay's culturally responsive teaching is recast, integrating cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity in L2 curricula. Although many teacher participants reported incorporating student background as a resource in informal ways, few teachers (3 of 17) reported formally integrating activities into L2 curricula that supported students in this way. This finding suggests that knowledge of the relevance of student diversity as a resource may also be underrepresented in L2 practices, and implications for L2 teaching and teacher candidates are discussed. Following this examination, the chapter offers a guiding activity that teacher candidates can develop to explore diversity and inform teaching practices.
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Theoretical Background

This chapter theoretically explores Gay’s (2010, 2013) culturally responsive teaching (CRT) in its relation to the development of teacher candidates’ understandings of diversity. According to Gay (2010), the intent of CRT is to foster L2 learning that is more relevant to and effective for diverse students. CRT can be defined as:

Behavioral expressions of knowledge, beliefs, and values that recognize the importance of racial and cultural diversity in learning. It is contingent on seeing cultural differences as assets; creating caring learning communities where culturally different individuals and heritages are valued; using cultural knowledge of ethnically diverse cultures, families, and communities to guide curriculum development, classroom climates, instructional strategies, and relationships with students; challenging racial and cultural stereotypes, prejudices, racism, and other forms of intolerance, injustice, and oppression; being change agents for social justice and academic equity; (and) mediating power imbalances in classrooms based on race, culture, ethnicity, and class. (Gay, 2010, p. 31)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teacher Deliberation: Encourages teachers to participate, reflect on, address, and define a problem. Requires each teacher involved to think critically, listen to others, value others’ opinions, engage in respectful dialogue, and to come to well thought-out decisions.

Gay, Geneva: A professor at the University of Washington-Seattle who teaches multicultural education and curriculum theory. She is known internationally for her work in multicultural education as it relates to a variety of themes such as intersections of culture, race, ethnicity, teaching and learning.

Freire, Paulo: One of the most influential educational philosophers of the 20 th century and known as the founder of the perspective known as Critical Pedagogy. His book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000) AU26: The in-text citation "Oppressed (2000)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , is his central work.

Authentic Practice: Practice that bridges theory and that is real-world and purposeful.

Culturally Responsive Teaching: A technique that uses prior cultural knowledge and experiences of diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant for them. This technique can address improvements in achievement and help diverse students through their own cultural experiences. This technique helps students learn more about cultural diversity, using heritage, experiences, and perspectives of diverse students as resources.

Authentic Learning: In education, authentic learning is an approach that allows students to explore, examine, grapple with, and discuss concepts and correlations in real-world scenarios and/or contexts that are relevant to students themselves. An example of authentic learning from this study are a project featuring students write their own “recipe” using their background as resources, sharing with the class, and learning from one another.

Diversity: While diversity can be interpreted broadly, diversity can be defined as commonly used to describe race, ethnicity, culture, and a range of factors in an individual’s identity, such as: social class, religion, gender, age, nationality, and language use.

Blum, Lawrence: A professor and moral philosopher at the University of Massachusetts-Boston who performed a four-year study teaching a course on race and racism at Cambridge Ringe and Latin Public School (CRLS) in Cambridge, MA. His subsequent book, High Schools, Race, and America’s Future (2012) AU25: The in-text citation "High Schools, Race, and America’s Future (2012)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , offers an account of his experiences teaching at CRLS during this time.

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