Academic journal article New Waves

Is Service-Learning the Answer? Preparing Teacher Candidates to Work with ELLs through Service-Learning Experiences

Academic journal article New Waves

Is Service-Learning the Answer? Preparing Teacher Candidates to Work with ELLs through Service-Learning Experiences

Article excerpt

Overview

Across the United States there is a general concern that TCs are not prepared to teach English language learners (ELLs) (Bunten, 2010; Lucas, Villegas & Freedson-Gonzalez, 2008; O'Neal, Ringler, & Rodriguez, 2008; Samson & Collings, 2012; U.S. Department of Education, 2010). According to the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA), some states require all teacher candidates to have specific coursework for teaching ELLs, several make a general reference to the needs of ELLs in their state standards, and others have no requirements at all and disregard the dramatic increases in the number of ELLs throughout the nation (Ballantyne, Sanderman, & Levy, 2008, p. 4). For the purpose of this study, the state of Nebraska will be used as an example of a U.S. context that needs to provide more ELL training for its teacher candidates. As evidenced by Education Week's special issue entitled How English Language Learners are Putting Schools to the Test, Nebraska is one of 13 states where the enrollment of ELLs grew over 200% from 1995 to 2005 (Editorial Projects in Education, 2009, p. 2). The U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA) data concurs with this trend. The data shows that in the 1997-1998 school year, Nebraska's ELL enrollment was 7,396. By 2012-2013, Nebraska enrolled 20,304 ELLs with its largest group being kindergarten students with 3,417. 1 Even though the majority of ELLs attend urban areas schools, many small and rural communities are also "experiencing an influx of language-minority students" (Abourezk, 2009). Despite this dramatic increase in the past decades, the state still does not require teacher education programs to have specific coursework on ELLs.

As the number of ELLs keep increasing in Nebraska and other states that "had little recent experience with new immigrants and their social and educational needs" (Editorial Projects in Education, p. 1), there is a call for "properly trained teachers" (Reutter, 2009). The state of Nebraska attempts to address the need for properly trained teachers through a set of documents with guidelines (Ex. Rule 15, Rule 24, Nebraska ELL Program Guide)2 for universities and school districts to offer an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement and/or professional training for teacher candidates (TCs) and in-service teachers. However, ESL endorsement courses are still optional and many teacher candidates and in-service teachers do not receive any preparation to teach ELLs. Lucas and Villegas (2013) argue that teacher educators must be strategic in how to prepare TCs to teach ELLs when there are no required courses in a program. One strategy to prepare teachers to teach ELLs is through the use of Service-Learning Experiences (SLE).

SLE in teacher education can support TCs in many ways (Swick, 1999). According to Swick, service learning can 1) provide TCs with the opportunity to learn how to plan, implement, and problem solve-skills necessary for effective teachers; 2) provide TCs with opportunities to practice and refine instructional strategies in various contexts; 3) help TCs better understand development by working closely with children and families; and 4) deepen their knowledge and understanding of the community and its role in the lives of children and families.

The incorporation of SLE in teacher education programs can also facilitate cultural competence (Domangue & Carson, 2008). As a result, several studies on SLE in teacher education focus on the positive outcomes these teacher candidates experience when working with culturally diverse children and families (Able, Ghulamani, Mallous, & Glazier, 2014; Bollin, 2007; Dunn-Kenney, 2010; Wade, Boyle-Baise, & Grady, 2001). For example, Meaner, Bohler, Kopf, Hernandez, and Scott (2008) examined the outcomes of preservice teachers in a physical education course that required students to teach physical education to African-American and Hispanic children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.