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The Role and Experiences of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in the Elementary General Education Classroom: Perceptions of ESOL Teachers Open Access

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This study examined how ESOL teachers working with grades K-6th provide ESOL services in the general education classroom. ESOL teachers were asked to describe and define their roles and provide examples of different language development activities. In addition, the perceptions and overall experiences of the ESOL teachers were analyzed. A basic qualitative research approach was used. The framework of the study was Borg’s (2003) teacher cognition and sociocultural theory. The study design included individual interviews with 15 ESOL teachers and used a semi-structured protocol that offered a guide for each interview but still allowed individual perspectives to emerge (Patton, 2002). Teachers confirmed that they worked at a Maryland public school providing English language development services in the classroom at least 50% of the time. Transcripts were coded using emergent and theoretical codes. The software program DeDoose and Gilliam’s (2002) 10-point procedure guided the process. In addition, reflective memos were used throughout the research process to organize questions, thoughts, and personal reactions about the interview data and themes (Creswell, 2007). Emergent themes found that content influenced language instruction while collaboration played an important role in the perceived effectiveness, benefits, and limitations of the push-in model. Themes related to the force of content in language instruction included accessing content and determining and embedding language instruction. Themes related to collaboration included the importance of planning and roles shared between the ESOL and general education teachers. Themes related to benefits and limitations of the push-in model clustered about individuating scaffolding and the challenge of servicing lower-proficient English language learners. The results of this study highlighted the need to allow for pullout and push-in models, to share responsibility for scaffolding, to prepare ESOL and general educators to collaborate, and to encourage continued research on how to create inclusive environments where English language learners learn language and content simultaneously.

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