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Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me this Before?

Research on Preparing Inservice Teachers to Work Effectively with Emergent Bilinguals

ISBN: 978-1-78441-494-8, eISBN: 978-1-78441-493-1

Publication date: 3 February 2015


During a site-based certification program in a large county school district in the southeastern United States, 14 educators took 7 graduate courses on teaching emergent bilinguals. These educators made a shift in their practices and perceived a corresponding shift in their teaching efficacy. Ten years after the onset of this program, researchers returned to the site and conducted a mixed-methods study. The first purpose of this study was to explore educators’ perceptions regarding instructional practices for teaching emergent bilinguals after a decade had passed. The second purpose was to identify course features perceived by educators as having been most instrumental in fostering a long-term transformation in their teaching practices. Data were collected from a survey and interviews with the 14 educators (13 teachers and a program specialist) who had completed this certification program. Results indicated changes in their teaching methods and interactions with parents as well as heightened confidence for taking on leadership roles. Study participants identified professional learning communities, cyclical reflective activities, and action research projects as the course features that had been instrumental in transforming their practices for working with emergent bilinguals. Findings suggest that this site-based certification program was a catalyst for generating individual change that continued beyond program completion. By exploring this decade-long transformation, the current study provides implications for designing and implementing graduate certification courses that prepare in-service teachers to work effectively with emergent bilinguals.




The authors thank Gulf County educators for having served as study participants and Dr. Richard Littleton for having served as a program evaluator.


Spezzini, S., Austin, J.S. and Prado, J. (2015), "Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me this Before?", Research on Preparing Inservice Teachers to Work Effectively with Emergent Bilinguals (Advances in Research on Teaching, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 205-232.



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