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

Yanan Fan


Abstract

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

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