Introspections on In-Service Teachers' Intercultural Responsiveness Skills for English Language Learners

Introspections on In-Service Teachers' Intercultural Responsiveness Skills for English Language Learners

Alina Slapac (University of Missouri – St. Louis, USA), Kim H. Song (University of Missouri – St. Louis, USA) and Cynthia C. Chasteen (University of Missouri – St. Louis, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2069-6.ch011
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Abstract

This chapter discusses the successes, concerns and challenges faced by in-service teachers in the instruction of English Learners (ELs). The constructs of intercultural responsiveness (IR), cultural competence (CC), linguistic competence (LC) and professional development (PD) are used as conceptual frameworks. The researchers are drawing on data gathered at a statewide conference focused on dual language (DL) education from five focus group interviews and informal conversations with twenty-seven in-service teachers and administrators at all levels of education, and the researchers' field notes .Vignettes of the participants' voices highlight their perspectives and experiences working with ELs. The authors hope that these stories of celebrations and struggles will engage other teachers and administrators to take a deeper look into their personal practices and pedagogies of working with ELs.
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Introduction

I had a student on my list who had a foreign name and I went to the teacher next door and said “What’s this?” She said, “That’s one of those ESL students”, and I said, “What do I do with her?” She said, “I do not know”. This was my first cultural experience at the age of 24, and through the years I’ve developed as cultural human being that I never had as a child and now I can see the world differently and I can actually make connections with students of different cultures. (ELL teacher, public school)

As schools are becoming increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse, teacher education programs are being challenged to prepare their pre- and in-service teachers in achieving Intercultural Responsiveness (IR) in their teacher education classrooms (Jones, 2013; Miller & Mikulec, 2014; Porto, 2010). Intercultural Responsiveness has been defined by Jones (2013) as multicultural awareness merged with intercultural sensitivity and cultural responsive teaching. Multicultural awareness could be brought through diverse perspectives and emphasized through a transformative curriculum (Banks, 1994). According to Saifer, Edwards, Ellis, Ko, and Stuczynski (2011), “Culturally responsive teaching infuses family customs –as well as community culture and expectations-throughout the teaching and learning environment” (p. 8). Researchers agree that although the knowledge base is important in being a linguistically and culturally responsive teacher (e.g., Song & Simons, 2014; Villegas & Lucas, 2002), a careful examination of pre- and in-service teachers’ own dispositions, values, understandings, attitudes, and practices using ethical, sociocultural lenses and sensitivity. This exploration also needs to include contact and collaboration with diverse ethnolinguistic communities would encourage them to develop their linguistic and cultural competence to serve the increasingly diverse learners, especially linguistically diverse learners (García, Arias, Harris- Murri, & Serna, 2000; Gay, 2000; Kim & Slapac, 2015; Lee, Cosby, & deBaca, 2007; Slapac & Kim, 2014; Song & Simons, 2014).

McCloskey (2002) estimated that as many as 45% of the nation’s teachers currently have ELs in their classrooms. Because of this increase of ELs, in the schools, teachers feel there are more demands placed on them, which can cause negative teachers’ attitudes (Reeves, 2006; Walker, Shafer, & Iams, 2004). In fact, a majority of mainstream teachers were not actively interested in having ELs in their classroom (Song, 2016; Walker, et al., 2004). In the United States, children of immigrants make up 25% of our school population (Britz & Batalova, 2013). A great majority of these children are English learners, who come to school needing additional support in order to access grade-level, academic content as well as develop fluency in English. The state of Missouri is no exception. Since 1980, the foreign-born population has increased 172%, with 72,000 of these identifying as Latino/Hispanic (Sandoval, Dorner, & Devonshire, 2014).

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