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  • TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

    Elementary Mainstream Classroom Teachers

    Perceptions and Teaching Practice towards English Language Learners

    By

    LIN SUI

    A research paper submitted in conformity with the requirements

    For the degree of Master of Teaching

    Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

    Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

    The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-

    NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License

    Copyright by Lin Sui, April 2015

  • TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS 2

    Abstract

    Teaching in the Toronto District School Boards (TDSB), the largest school board in

    Canada with the most diverse student population, many mainstream classroom teachers

    feel that they are not equipped with adequate knowledge to teach and support English

    language learners (ELLs) in their classrooms. This qualitative research used a literature

    review and two face-to-face interviews to investigate this issue, focused around teachers

    preparation and knowledge, effective teaching strategies, and personal learning

    experience. The findings of the study indicated the importance for mainstream classroom

    teachers to encompass appropriate pedagogical, theoretical, and cultural knowledge

    through professional development in order to provide ELLs with sufficient support to be

    successful.

    Key Words: English Language Learners (ELL), mainstream classroom teacher, teaching

    strategies, attitudes

  • TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS 3

    Acknowledgements

    The past two years studying in the Master of Teaching program have been a great

    learning experience for me. There are a number of people who I am deeply grateful for

    their support and help.

    To my research supervisor Jeff Bale, you have been so supportive and understanding.

    Thank you for your time and effort in giving me guidance, help and advice throughout

    writing and editing this research study.

    To all my associate teachers, especially my two research participants, thanks for

    your encouragement, support, and constructive feedback! Without your experiences, my

    research would not have been possible.

    To all my professors in the Master of Teaching program, thanks for your inspiration,

    professional knowledge, and passion in the past two years. You enlighten my way of both

    personal growth as well as professional development.

    To my Primary/Junior 131 family, everyone is so special and nice, thanks for being

    such an inclusive and loving community!

    To Cheng, Emma, Joanna, Leona, and Qing, thanks for being such amazing and

    supportive friends! We had so many precious memories together that I will treasure

    forever.

    To my parents, you are the worlds best parents, thanks for everything you have

    done for me. Your endless and unconditional love is what makes me here.

    To all the families and friends, thanks for being in my life. I want to thank you all from

    the bottom of my heart.

  • TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS 4

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Abstract ............................................................................................................................... 2

    Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................. 3

    Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION............................................................................................. 6

    Introduction to the Research Study ............................................................................. 6

    Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................. 10

    Background of the Researcher .................................................................................. 12

    Overview ................................................................................................................... 13

    Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW................................................................................ 14

    Mainstream Teachers Perceptions and Attitudes toward ELLs ............................... 14

    Second Language Acquisition Theories ................................................................... 16

    Teachers Professional Development ....................................................................... 19

    Teaching Practices and Strategies towards ELLs ..................................................... 21

    Summary ................................................................................................................... 25

    Chapter 3: METHODOLOGY .......................................................................................... 26

    Procedure .................................................................................................................. 26

    Instruments of Data Collection ................................................................................. 27

    Participants ................................................................................................................ 28

    Data Collection and Analysis.................................................................................... 29

    Ethical Review Procedures ....................................................................................... 29

    Limitations ................................................................................................................ 30

    Chapter 4: FINDINGS ...................................................................................................... 31

    Personal Experiences ................................................................................................ 31

    Negative Learning Experiences ........................................................................ 31

  • TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS 5

    Positive English Second language Learning Experiences ................................ 32

    Parental Influence ............................................................................................. 32

    Impact on Teaching................................................................................................... 33

    Positive Attitudes towards ELLs ...................................................................... 33

    Awareness of ELLs Needs .............................................................................. 34

    Teaching strategies.................................................................................................... 35

    Effective Teaching Strategies ........................................................................... 35

    Communication with Parents ............................................................................ 38

    Professional Training ................................................................................................ 39

    Chapter 5: DISCUSSION ................................................................................................. 40

    Reflection .................................................................................................................. 40

    Influence of Personal Learning Experience on Teaching ................................. 40

    Effective Teaching Strategies ........................................................................... 41

    Professional Training ........................................................................................ 42

    Implications............................................................................................................... 43

    Recommendations ..................................................................................................... 44

    Limitations ................................................................................................................ 45

    Further study ............................................................................................................. 45

    REFERENCES ................................................................................................................. 46

    Appendix A: Letter of Consent for Interview ........................................................... 53

    Appendix B: Interview Questions ............................................................................. 55

  • TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS 6

    Elementary Mainstream Classroom Teachers

    Perceptions and Teaching Practice towards English Language Learners

    Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION

    Introduction to the Research Study

    Due to the large number of immigrants from different countries around the world,

    students are becoming increasingly diverse in Canadian schools. Every year, Ontario

    receives more than 100,000 immigrants, with one-third of this population is under the age

    of nineteen. Moreover, three-quarters of these students are from countries where English

    is not their first language. In the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the largest

    school board in Canada, 47% of the student population has a lang