Every teacher is a language teacher: Preparing teacher candidates for English language learners through service-learning

Yanan Fan


Secondary school teachers in the United States are facing urgent challenges in their increasingly heterogeneous classrooms where the presence of English language learners (ELLs) is becoming the norm. This study reports preliminary findings of a qualitative, interpretive case study of secondary school teacher candidates learning to teach English language learners through service-learning in Northern California. In a semester-long tutoring project, candidates focused on individual ELLs in their inquiry into language learning, in which they (re)constructed their sociolinguistic knowledge of English and their tutees’ home languages in context. Moreover, the mutually beneficial relationships among members of the language community encouraged candidates’ critical reflections on language learning. The study offers instructional experiences for teachers and teacher educators to develop sociolinguistic and pedagogical tools while supporting, and being supported by, the ELL communities.

Keywords: teacher education, service-learning, sociocultural perspective, English language learners, secondary schools, teacher knowledge

Full Text:



Ballantyne, K, Sanderman, A & Levy, J 2008, Educating English language learners: Building teacher capacity, National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, Washington, DC.

Blum, D & de la Piedra, T 2010, 'Counter-storytelling through service-learning: Future teachers of immigrant students in Texas and California re-tell the Self" and the "Other"', International Journal of Progressive Education, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 626."

Boyle-Baise, M & McIntyre, D 2008, 'What kind of experience? Preparing teachers in PDS or community settings', in M Cochran-Smith, S Feiman-Nemser & D McIntyre (eds), Handbook of research on teacher education: Enduring questions in changing contexts, Routledge, New York, pp. 30730.

Emerson, R, Fretz, R & Shaw, L 1995, Writing ethnographic fieldnotes, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226206851.001.0001

Fan, Y 2009, 'Lost in institution: Learning to write in Midwestern urban mainstream classrooms', Journal of Southeast Asian American Education & Advancement, vol. 4, pp. 117.

Friedman, A 2002, 'What we would have liked to know: Preservice teachers' perspectives on effective teacher preparation', in A Beykont (ed.), The power of culture: Teaching across language difference, Harvard Education, Cambridge, MA, pp. 193217.

García, E, Arias, M, Murri, N & Serna, C 2010, 'Developing responsive teachers: A challenge for a demographic reality', Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 61, nos 12, pp. 13242. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022487109347878

Gebhard, M 2010, 'Teacher education in changing times: A systemic functional linguistics (SFL) perspective', TESOL Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 797803. http://dx.doi.org/10.5054/tq.2010.237335

Hadjioannou, X & Hutchinson, M 2010, 'Putting the G back in English: Preparing pre-service teachers to teach grammar', English Teaching: Practice and Critique, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 90105.

Hale, A 2008, 'Service learning with Latino communities: Effects on preservice teachers', Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 5469. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1538192707310511

Hallman, H & Burdick, M 2011, 'Service learning and the preparation of English teachers', English Education, vol. 43, pp. 34168.

Hammerness, K, Darling-Hammond, L & Bransford, J 2005, 'How teachers learn and develop', in L Darling-Hammond & J Bransford (eds), Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, pp. 35889.

Hansen, G 2010, 'Word recognition in Arabic as a foreign language', The Modern Language Journal, vol. 94, no. 4, pp. 56781. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2010.01094.x

Hart, S & King, J 2007, 'Service learning and literacy tutoring: Academic impact on pre-service teachers', Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 32338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2006.12.004

Hellebrandt, J 2006, 'Spanish service-learning research from 19992003: Effects on faculty, department, community, and discipline', Hispania, vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 91926. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/20063425

Henry, S, & Breyfogle, M 2006, 'Toward a new framework of server" and "served": De(and re)constructing reciprocity in service-learning pedagogy', International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 2735."

Hollins, E & Guzman, M 2005, 'Research on preparing teachers for diverse populations', in M Cochran-Smith & K Zeichner (eds), Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA Panel on research and teacher education, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 477548.

Howard, J 2001, Service-learning course design workbook, OCSL Press, Ann Arbor, MI.

Jacoby, B 1996, Service-learning in higher education, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Lave, J & Wenger, E 1991, Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511815355

Lear, D & Abbott, A 2009, 'Aligning expectations for mutually beneficial community service learning: The case of Spanish language proficiency, cultural knowledge, and professional skills', Hispania, vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 31223.

Lucas, T & Grinberg, J 2008, 'Responding to the linguistic reality of mainstream classrooms: Preparing all teachers to teach English language learners', in M Cochran-Smith, S Feiman-Nemser & D McIntyre (eds), Handbook of research on teacher education, Routledge, New York, pp. 60636.

Lucas, T, Villegas, A & Freedson-Gonzalez, M 2008, 'Linguistically responsive teacher education: Preparing classroom teachers to teach English language learners', Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 59, no. 4, pp. 36173. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022487108322110

Morris, A & Hiebert, J 2011, 'Creating shared instructional products: An alternative approach to improving teaching', Educational Researcher, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 514. http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0013189X10393501

Ponder, J, Veldt, M & Lewis-Ferrell, G 2011, 'Citizenship, curriculum, and critical thinking beyond the four walls of the classroom: Linking the academic content with service-learning', Teacher Education Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 4568.

Spencer, B, Cox-Petersen, A & Crawford, T 2005, 'Assessing the impact of service-learning on preservice teachers in an after-school program', Teacher Education Quarterly, vol. 32, pp. 11935.

Stanton, T & Erasmus, M 2013, 'Inside out, outside in: A comparative analysis of service-learning's development in the United States and South Africa', Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 6194.

Szente, J 2008, 'Preparing preservice teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse children: A service learning experience', Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 14045. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10901020802059490

Valdés, G 2001, Learning and not learning English: Latino students in American schools, Teachers College Press, New York, NY.

Walker, C, Ranney, S & Fortune, T 2005, 'Preparing preservice teachers for English language learners: A content-based approach', in D Tedick (ed.), Second language teacher education: International perspectives, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 31333.

Weinstein, G 2006, 'Learners' lives as curriculum": An integrative project-based model for language learning', in G Beckett & P Miller (eds), Project-based second and foreign language education: Past, present, and future, Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, NC, pp. 15966."

Wong, P 2008, 'Transactions, transformation, and transcendence: Multicultural service-learning experience of preservice teachers', Multicultural Education, vol. 16, pp. 3136.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/ijcre.v6i1.3232