Research on Preparing Preservice Teachers to Work Effectively with Emergent Bilinguals: Volume 21


Table of contents

(19 chapters)

A major challenge in teacher education in the United States is how to address the academic and linguistic needs of the growing numbers of emergent bilingual students. A second challenge is how to prepare predominantly White monolingual preservice teachers with little exposure to speakers of languages other than English to educate culturally and linguistically diverse students. With these two challenges in mind, this study examines how a course on literacy, language, and culture grounded in pedagogies of discomfort shifts preservice teachers’ deficit orientations toward emergent bilingual students’ language and literacy resources. Using Ofelia García’s (2009) definition for emergent bilingualism, this mixed-method study was conducted from 2011 to 2013 with 73 preservice teacher participants enrolled at an urban mid-Atlantic university. Quantitative data consisted of pre and post surveys while qualitative data comprised written responses to open-ended statements, self-analyses, and participant interviews. Findings evidence preservice teachers’ endorsement of monolingualism before coursework; however, pedagogies of discomfort during coursework provoke critical reflection leading to significant shifts in preservice teachers’ dispositions toward teaching language diversity in the classroom with implications for teaching emergent bilingual students.


In this qualitative study, we explore 31 preservice teachers’ generative trajectories including how they built on instructional practices learned in the service-learning project, the university methods course, and the field-based experience. We addressed the question: In what ways does participating in a semester-long field-based university course combined with a service-learning program shape preservice teachers’ views about effective literacy practices for emergent bilinguals? We identified four themes in our analysis: importance of choice in literacy pedagogy; learning from and with our students; freedom to apply course methods and ideas; and growing confidence and align them with Ball’s (2009) generative change model and the four processes of change – metacognitive awareness, ideological becoming, internalization, and efficacy.

We found the preservice teachers’ ability to develop an awareness of diversity grew from their work with students both in their field-block experience and writing club. These opportunities provided them with a layering of learning – from course readings, collaborating with teachers, to problem solving and creating lessons that specifically met their students’ needs. By moving in and out of different contexts, preservice teachers developed generative knowledge about ways to support writing for emergent bilinguals. Likewise, they became keenly aware of their own experiences and beliefs. Implications include the importance of providing a variety of opportunities for preservice teachers to work directly with students. This should be accompanied by written and verbal discussions to examine and critique their experiences and ideologies in relation to students’ language and literacy needs.


This study, carried out in the bilingual and bicultural border area of South Texas, is an exploration of bilingual preservice teachers’ identity formation and their experiences and beliefs about literacy and biliteracy during an undergraduate class focused on learning about emergent literacy in the bilingual classroom. This study is based on a sociocultural approach to learning and identity development, and research that explores how bilingual teachers’ identity is shaped through their participation in cultural and linguistic practices. The purpose of this practitioner research is to provide insights into preservice teachers’ identities as they start to explore literacy and biliteracy practices. Two research questions guide the study: What experiences about literacy and biliteracy development do prospective teachers identify as meaningful? How do these experiences contribute to define bilingual preservice teachers’ identities? Findings indicate that bilingual preservice teachers’ identities are shaped by cultural and linguistic experiences that define the bilingual and bicultural dynamics of the region. Two predominant types of experiences impact bilingual preservice teachers’ beliefs about teaching, learning, and literacy/biliteracy development. Particularly significant in defining their perceptions are the lessons learned from meaningful others – especially mothers and teachers – and certain relevant memories regarding effective practices they experienced when learning to read and write. Implications for teacher education preparation of bilingual teachers are identified.


This chapter is based on a self-study of teacher education practices (S-STEP) project that explored the pedagogical practices of a teacher educator and the impact of such practices on a teacher candidate engaged in the process of becoming a translingual teacher. This S-STEP study includes David, a professor in a teacher education program in the greater New York City metropolitan area, and Mary, a teacher candidate enrolled in the program. The purpose of the study was to discover how different class activities influenced the philosophical and pedagogical views of one teacher candidate in the program. The following are the two research questions of the study:

  1. How did the class experiences that a teacher education professor, David, designed help teacher candidates conceptualize translingual approach to language and literacy development?

  2. How did a monolingual teacher candidate, Mary, develop her role as a translingual English teacher through the completion of these experiences?

How did the class experiences that a teacher education professor, David, designed help teacher candidates conceptualize translingual approach to language and literacy development?

How did a monolingual teacher candidate, Mary, develop her role as a translingual English teacher through the completion of these experiences?

The findings of this S-STEP project demonstrate that the Sociocultural Reflection, the Community Study, and the Linguistic Landscape fostered a translingual approach to language and literacy in the classroom. Moreover, the findings suggest that upon the completion of the projects, one teacher education candidate was able to better define translingualism as a phenomenon of study, ideology, and pedagogy.

Since this investigation is based on a S-STEP project of a single teacher educator and a single teacher candidate, more research with larger populations is needed. Practical implications for teacher educators and teacher candidates in other settings are explored.


As members of a team of bilingual preservice faculty in the South Texas borderlands, we have observed a consistent, pattern of inappropriate pedagogy offered to the emergent bilingual learners (EBLs) in the region’s inadequate PK-12 system, where subtractivist teaching practices and school policies undermined their academic development and their personal and professional identities as bilinguals and linguistic minorities. Our task is to teach our preservice students about best practices as we help them develop an awareness of themselves as bilingual, bi-literate professionals who can navigate within the accountability-driven school system and provide additive developmental learning opportunities to their emergent bilingual students.

In this chapter, we describe the experiences and findings from a five-year research project that employed an innovative approach to higher education pedagogy to teach 63 bilingual preservice students how to provide research-based, constructivist-oriented additive pedagogy to emergent bilinguals. Analysis of data from journals and focus group discussions suggest the development of the critical stance necessary for the development of an additive approach needed for the optimal development of emergent bilinguals. Although the study is limited to the specific context of South Texas US–Mexico border communities, the findings have implications for the preparation of bilingual education settings across the nation.


In an effort to better prepare pre-service candidates to work with all students and to respond to the current collaborative team teaching trend within New York City public schools, the authors who are professors of bilingual education and inclusive education/disability studies, respectively, combined their student teaching seminars in bilingual education and childhood education, in order to: (1) provide a model of co-teaching as well as an experience and perspective of being a student in a classroom with two teachers; (2) provide pre-service candidates with ongoing access to the expertise of two professors during their student teaching experience; (3) engage pre-service teachers in critical conversations about identifying and resisting deficit constructions of both emergent bilingual students and students with disabilities; (4) engage in a self-study of teaching practice within this collaborative context; (5) consider how well our respective programs currently prepare pre-service teachers. The Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices approach gleaned data from the co-instructors’ weekly reflective journals and student evaluations to reveal multiple benefits of a collaborative classroom context for pre-service teachers as well as the professors. These benefits included a rethinking of academic structures, spaces for interconnectedness across fields, and increased professor and student learning. The findings challenge teacher educators to consider whether or not a traditional approach to teacher preparation truly offers pre-service teachers the tools to serve diverse students. The authors call on schools of education to transgress traditional academic boundaries to adequately prepare pre-service teachers for the 21st century classroom.


This chapter investigates the impact of a teacher preparation program that includes specific attention to the needs of bilingual learners on participants’ subsequent teaching practices. Specifically, this mixed methods retrospective study examines graduates’ reports of their current teaching practices as well as their perceptions of the Teaching English Language Learners (TELL) program’s impact on these practices. Multiple-choice survey data were analyzed quantitatively to identify trends among reported practices and perceptions. Open-ended survey and interview data were analyzed qualitatively to identify interrelated themes within teachers’ detailed, first-hand accounts of their pre-service and in-service experiences. The results showed that there was variety with respect to whether particular linguistically responsive practices were routine, used occasionally, or rarely. There was also a difference with respect to whether such practices were perceived to be the result of having participated in the program. Notably, the most frequently used practices attributed to the TELL program involved teaching language (TL) to facilitate content learning. Other aspects of the teacher preparation program supported effective practices for academic content learning, but only TELL coursework and experiences facilitated practices that emphasized academic language development. These results suggest that programs created to improve the preparation of teachers to work with bilingual learners in mainstream classroom contexts must make a special effort to develop teachers’ skills in regard to language teaching, especially practices that focus on language beyond the word-level. There are limitations to the study because of the small number of participants and the fact that they were self-selected as program participants.


This chapter discusses the findings of a qualitative study conducted on the US–Mexico border to investigate preservice bilingual teachers’ understandings of the effective practices needed to teach content in bilingual classrooms. Specifically, participants’ understandings of teaching language through content to emergent bilinguals and the role of academic language in a content methods course taught in Spanish for preservice bilingual teachers were explored. The results of the study show that preservice bilingual teachers struggled to internalize how to develop language objectives that embed the four language domains as well as the three levels of academic language into their content lessons. Although participants emphasized vocabulary development, they integrated multiple scaffolding strategies to support emergent bilinguals. Moreover, although preservice bilingual teachers struggled with standard Spanish, they used translanguaging to navigate the discourse of education in their content lessons. The use of academic Spanish was also evident in participants’ planning of instruction. The authors contend that bilingual teacher preparation would benefit from the implementation of a dynamic bilingual curriculum that: (a) incorporates sustained opportunities across coursework for preservice bilingual teachers to strengthen their understanding of content teaching and academic language development for emergent bilinguals; (b) values preservice bilingual teachers’ language varieties, develops metalinguistic awareness, and fosters the ability to navigate between language registers for teaching and learning; and (c) values translanguaging as a pedagogical strategy that provides access to content and language development.


This chapter discusses the findings of a self-study of teacher education practices (S-STEP) conducted to investigate the ways the author supported teacher candidates, and first year teachers who were teaching emergent bilinguals in planning reading and writing activities around authentic texts. The purpose of the study was to determine in what ways the researcher supported the candidates’ planning, in what ways the teacher candidates implemented the activities, and how the self-study informed the researcher as a teacher educator. The study looked at how the teacher candidates and first year teachers implemented the activities with their own students. Teacher candidates were supported by the researcher through a methodology class, class observations, informal meetings, and emails and text messaging. The teacher candidates and first year teachers reported that all of the activities and strategies that they learned from the researcher and then implemented with their own students were effective. Both the teacher candidates and the first year teachers modified many of the strategies in order to meet the needs of their emergent bilingual students. Through this self-study investigation of how students used and modified the strategies and activities, the researcher gained valuable information that will inform work with future students. She will introduce fewer strategies and activities and explain how each one can be used to teach different content. In further study, the researcher will provide student teachers with a rubric to evaluate the effectiveness of each strategy or activity with different types of students.


This chapter explores the concept of annotated lesson plans. Teacher candidates annotated why modifications were made to their lesson plans to support emergent bilinguals. They included the research and theory to support such modifications. This research demonstrates the impact of annotated lesson plans on candidates in connecting their understanding of learning and language acquisition theories to actual classroom practices. Two questions guided the research: (1) Would annotated lesson plans assist teacher candidates in connecting language and learning theories to the modifications made in their lesson plans? (2) What was the impact of creating the annotated lesson plan on the teacher candidates, as expressed through their self-reflection of the process? Founded on the base of naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln & Guba, 1985), the data collected was contextualized within the frame of a teacher candidate course. Annotated lesson plans and accompanying reflection papers were gathered as data. These items were analyzed based on the guidelines established by Lincoln and Guba (1985) and Spradley (1980). Teacher candidates connected theories to their planned lessons. They demonstrated and expressed better understanding of related theories and methods. While a minority of the candidates expressed concerns with their overall preparation to educate emergent bilingual students, the majority of the candidates felt the lesson plans provided them with greater confidence in meeting the needs of such students. The implications of the study are that annotated lesson plans can better prepare preservice teachers for teaching emergent bilinguals.


This chapter explores an approach to instruction in pre-service classes called “goofiness pedagogy.” Embedded in teaching and learning theories, goofiness pedagogy is designed to model creative teaching to help emergent bilingual learners academically, linguistically, and socially. Currently in Arizona, highly restrictive language policies limit curricular and pedagogical choices for students acquiring English. As a result, pre-service teachers are often reluctant to work with them, and worried that their own creativity will be constrained. This chapter thus discusses a multi-year study of goofiness pedagogy – theatrical drama, play, and performance – that helps pre-service teachers develop an alternative vision of exceptional teaching for and with emergent bilingual learners. Data sources include student and author reflections on the practice of performed goofiness in Structured English Immersion classes at the University of Arizona, video-taped performances of students engaged in drama and improvisation, and analysis of student written artifacts. Findings indicate that while some pre-teachers hesitate to participate in “performed goofiness,” the majority believe that theatrical activities encourage them to try out innovative teaching strategies, take risks, make mistakes, and analyze those mistakes in a supportive community of practice. Equally important, pre-service teachers begin to understand that learning in general, and language learning in particular, are social pursuits and that teachers should create social spaces in their own classrooms to support the academic and language development of emergent bilingual students. Goofiness pedagogy also has transformed the author’s own teaching practices, and consequently represents a “pedagogy of hope” within a rigid state context.

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Advances in Research on Teaching
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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