Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Teacher Interculturality in an English as a Second Language Elementary Pull-Out Program: Teacher as Broker in the School's Community of Practice

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Teacher Interculturality in an English as a Second Language Elementary Pull-Out Program: Teacher as Broker in the School's Community of Practice

Article excerpt

Introduction

Mobility has increased around the world and led to growing diversity in schools as more students are either immigrants themselves or are children of immigrants (Duff, 2015). However, the official (or sometimes unofficial) language policies of states, districts, and schools maintain a dominantly standard English viewpoint that largely ignores the diverse demographics (Hornberger & Link, 2012). Sociocultural studies of classroom contexts show that students need social inclusion in order to fully benefit from education, yet Duff (2002) stated, "Large numbers of minority students in schools worldwide are at considerable risk of alienation, isolation, and failure because of the discourse and interactions that surround them on a daily basis" (p. 316). Therefore, researchers in education and applied linguistics continue to explore educational strategies that are beneficial for diverse students and that are inclusive of their linguistic strengths and cultural knowledge (see Garcia & Wei, 2014; Gutierrez, 2008; Lee, 2007; Moje et al., 2004 among others). A continued focus on how to provide equitable education for diverse students is necessary, so this study strives to add to the growing body of literature.

In order to exceed the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) standards, teachers are expected to be conscious of the diverse backgrounds of their students as well as the context within which students use language (TESOL International Association, 2010). However, a recent study by Baecher & Bell (2017) showed that teachers within pull-out programs do not feel as though they have enough time with their students in order to meet their needs. Therefore, it is relevant to explore how teachers within the existing ESL models such as pull-out programs make the most of their opportunities to work with their students. This study examines how one teacher in a pull-out ESL program used intercultural skills to both learn about her diverse students' backgrounds and the contexts that they used language (TESOL International Association, 2010) as well as provide opportunities for students to speak and participate in order to get the most out of education opportunities (Norton, 2001) (1). This study adds to the existing literature that forms a "virtuous circle" between theory and practice, or literature that shows not only how the theory of interculturality is relevant to practice but also how practice can in turn inform theory (Byram, Holmes, & Savvides, 2013, p. 252). Research so far has mostly focused on intercultural competence within foreign language education (Baker, 2012, 2015; Byram & Feng, 2004; Duff & Uchida, 1997; Sercu, 2006). A majority of research has also focused on how to build intercultural competence in pre-service teachers through formal education, such as courses in their university programs or study abroad experiences (Byram, 1997; Ference & Bell, 2010; Frederick, Cave, & Perencevich, 2010; Walters, Garii, & Walters, 2009). However, this study focuses on two aspects of intercultural competence that so far have not been thoroughly explored: the effectiveness of intercultural competence within ESL contexts in the United States to address concerns about equitable education for diverse students as well as the lived experiences of teachers outside of formal education that have led them to construct intercultural competence. In this study, I also use Wenger's (1998, 2000) concept of communities of practice in order to explore how ESL teachers can use intercultural competence to act as brokers. Instead of looking specifically at how one ESL teacher teaches culture itself (Menard-Warwick, 2008) or how she teaches intercultural competence to her students (Young & Sachdev, 2011), this study focuses on how she developed and used her own intercultural skills to act as a broker for her students to bridge their home language and culture and their new communities of practice at school, helping them to find a voice within the dominant school culture that often encourages them to leave their past behind and adopt new norms for language and other behaviors. …

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