The Role of Language Ideologies in the Self-Efficacy of Pre-Service Bilingual Education Teachers

The Role of Language Ideologies in the Self-Efficacy of Pre-Service Bilingual Education Teachers

Amanda R. Szwed (University of North Texas, USA) and Ricardo González-Carriedo (University of North Texas, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9108-5.ch012
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This chapter examines how language inequities within education are associated with perceptions of Spanish language self-efficacy in pre-service bilingual education teachers. The chapter delves into how language ideologies play a role in shaping disparities amongst bilingual education programs. The teacher shortages which exist within the field of bilingual education have assisted in the increased demands placed on bilingual pre- and in-service teachers. The programs created to instruct bilingual teachers have had to modify their design in order to meet the needs of future teachers. The needs are determined by the perceptions of each bilingual. Additionally, each bilingual chooses what skills are needed in order to use Spanish as a medium of instruction and, in some cases, to teach Spanish as a foreign language. Using a grounded theory, this study analyzed the cycle of language ideologies, self-efficacy, and language inequities. The results show that language ideologies have impacted the bilinguals' self-efficacy. Finally, it was determined that language inequality has played a key role in shaping language ideologies.
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Although it may be tempting to find complacency in the rapid growth of dual-language (DL) programs across the United States (Muñiz, 2018), anyone with an interest in bilingual education should be wary of the challenges that the field faces. Central among these challenges is the potential for inequity that exists in bilingual education. This inequity is rooted in the insufficient number of bilingual teachers who graduate from teacher education programs as well as through the low self-efficacy of bilingual pre-service teachers enrolled in these programs. This chapter focuses on the latter and describes a recent study conducted by the authors where bilingual pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy about the Spanish language was examined.

Historically, bilingual education has experienced periods of relative prosperity and phases of enormous restraints (Ovando, 2003). In current times, the cyclical pendulum of educational policies appears to be swinging once again in favor of bilingual education. This is happening after an interval of time, from the late 1990s to 2016, where English-only policies were enacted and implemented in different parts of the country, effectively banning the use of bilingual programs in public schools (Crawford, 2007). However, California (2016) and Massachusetts (2017), have recently reversed their respective bans on bilingual education, allowing for the re-emergence of programs where teaching and learning occurs in English plus another language. Concurrently, states where bilingual education has been consistently in place throughout the last few decades have experienced an exponential growth of DL programs (Cowart, 2017).

It is important to note that bilingual education is an umbrella term used to describe educational programs where two languages are used. However, the actual implementation of bilingual programs differs according to the underlying philosophy of the model. Certain programs, for example, favor a model where the minoritized language is used simply as a vehicle toward the end-goal of learning English while allowing students to keep up academically with their native-English speaking peers. These are the transitional bilingual programs, where students are typically taught in some combination of English and their native language until grade 3 (early-exit) or grade 5 (late-exit) (Lessow-Hurley, 2012).

A second major category of bilingual education is one that includes DL programs, also known as two-way immersion. In this case, the goal is that students reach full bilingualism and biliteracy, and obtain cross-cultural understandings. The minoritized language occupies a position of equal importance with English and instruction is balanced between both languages (Wright, 2015). The actual implementation of the DL programs varies depending on the model pursued by the school, but the underlying notion is one that favors a distinct separation of languages during instruction (Palmer, 2007, Warhol, 2012). Some within the academic field of bilingual education affirm that this allows for the minoritized language to occupy a space in the students’ academic lives and thrive (see, for example, Thomas & Collier, 2010). This fundamental premise is at present being challenged from those who propose bilingual education models where the two languages are used concurrently in the classroom (for a discussion of the concept of translanguaging, see García, Rubdy, & Alsagoff, 2014; García & Reid, 2014; and Otheguy, García, & Reid, 2015). Notwithstanding the current debate over which approach produces better academic results or is a more just representation of the bilingual students’ lives, many school districts across the country are adopting programs based on the concept of dual language (Steele et al., 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teacher Preparation Programs: The educational environment that prepares students for their future careers in teaching.

Dual Language Programs: The programs that include the instruction of content and literacy in two languages simultaneously.

Language Program Misplacement: The positioning of a language learner into the wrong language program.

Self-Efficacy: The confidence or competence one feels in a particular skill.

English Learner (EL): An individual who already knows prior language(s) and is learning English as an additional language.

Language Inequities: The inequality between languages in a society.

Language Ideologies: The beliefs one has regarding language and its place in society or a given environment.

Bilingual Education: The learning environment where a person learns two languages at a time. Instruction (typically) takes place in English and the other language medium. There are different types of bilingual education, such as two-way immersion, one-way immersion, maintenance/heritage education, etc.

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