Improving ESOL teaching skills and attitudes of pre-service teachers towards English Language Learners (ELLs)

Ms. Amany Habib
Ms. Amany Habib

Emerge Faculty Fellow: Ms. Amany Habib

This proposal seeks to establish a process to improve the teaching skills and attitudes held by pre-service undergraduate teachers related to providing services to public school students enrolled in ESOL programs. This project will expectantly suggest ways that our teacher training program and practicum experiences can be improved without adding to coursework hours or other faculty workloads.

Teacher behavior and attitudes are closely correlated to student success and they are two most available variables over which teachers have control. A good deal of research suggests that teachers who have positive attitudes about students are more likely to interact with students and produce student gains in academic performance. Research also suggests that teachers, like all humans, have expectations that can be negatively affected by variables such as race, ethnicity, religion, and/or language. Teachers who have these negative attitudes are less likely to establish positive relationships with students or provide the extent or amount of specialized instruction needed by students who are served in ESOL programs.

The state of Florida is under a consent decree that mandates that all preservice teachers be trained in ESOL. Additionally, accreditation standards identify the importance of well integrated ESO training in teacher education programs. In our program, students complete a number of courses in ESOL that are designed to build an awareness of the importance of cultural and linguistic differences. This pedagogical knowledge, while a necessary prerequisite for changes in attitudes, it is not clear if it gets translated into direct action in practicum settings.

Semester hours cannot be added to the teacher training program, therefore this proposal seeks to reorient the 20 hour practicum experience with a short seminar meeting with students before beginning Field Experience II. This seminar will outline the requirements for this project which include:

  1. An initial survey of student attitudes towards cultural and linguistic differences,
  2. A weekly journal writing program that will be submitted weekly to a an eLearning dropbox that focuses on the preservice teacher’s self-reflection of behaviors and attitudes related to cultural and linguistic differences and how these translate into classroom interaction. Through a series of guided questions, students will be asked to examine their behaviors and attitudes about these students and ways that they have succeeded in meeting the needs of these students while also recognizing the ways that they can improve their own behaviors and attitudes. I will provide feedback to these dropbox submissions and guide the preservice teacher in the development of the necessary skills and attitudes,
  3. The identification and implementation of an unmet need on the part of the student with cultural or linguistic differences and a plan for addressing this need. Progress will be reported weekly and will focus on demonstrated student change and self-reflection of the effect that attitudes and behaviors on the part of the UWF student had on the success of the program,
  4. A review of the elements that were successful and unsuccessful in the plan and implementation of the student’s unmet need,
  5. The completion of the survey upon the completion of this activity. This will allow for a measure of self-reflection of growth in skills and attitudes related to students with cultural and linguistic differences. Students will also be surveyed related to what parts of their experience were most and least valuable, what parts of the program that could be improved and ways that the program changed their behavior and attitudes.

This project will increase the ESOL faculty workload but can blend into the already existing requirements of Field Experience 2. As a pilot study, it is designed to identify elements of practices that may be changed with the realization that any suggested change would have to be thoroughly reviewed.

This proposal seeks to limit the study group to 10 students (or maybe more if possible). Pre-service teachers will be recruited for this experience from those enrolled in Field Experience 2 for the Fall semester of 2014. Participation will be entirely voluntary and participants will be made aware of the benefits associated with the Emerge program. The data from the study may suggest ways that we could improve and focus our practicum experience with students who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

High Impact Practices (HIPs) Utilized

  • Diversity/Global Learning
  • Field Experience

For more information, please contact Ms. Amany Habib at or (850) 474-2818.