Mainstream teachers need to know how to teach both language and content to English Language
Learners (ELLs) (Genesee, 2006), as their enrollment in PK-12 schools has increased over 50% in 10
years (NCELA, 2007). Many mainstream teachers continue to report feeling underprepared to
meet their needs (Reeves, 2006). This study examines through multiple lenses the relationship
and their reported perceptions with ELLs.
Literature Review
Research over the last several decades has resulted in much knowledge about effective ELL
instruction. Researchers agree that effective teachers of ELLs must know how to teach both
language and content. (Ballantyne, Sanderman, & Levy, 2008; Echevarria & Short, 1999; Genesee,
2006; Walqui & DeFazio, 2003). For ELL students to obtain equitable access in schools, scholars
contend that it is critical for teachers to utilize their students’ culture and language as a resource
to promote learning and development in the classroom (Genesee, 2006; Moll, 1992; Riojas-Cortez,
Research over the last two decades confirms that much is known about effective
practices for ELL students (August & Hakuta, 2006). For example, the literature provides much
evidence to conclude that students can achieve more proficiency and learn content at a faster rate
when provided with comprehensible input and some instruction and support in the first language.
In examining the cultural, linguistic, and pedagogical preparation of bilingual education teachers,
Menken and Atunez (2001) found the least emphasis was placed on linguistic competencies during
preparation. Linguistics and language development has been identified as an area in need of
increased attention not only in higher education (Menken & Atunez, 2001; Goodwin, 2002; WongFillmore & Snow, 2002), but also professional development (de Jong & Harper, 2005) and within
states’ K-12 standards (Baca & Escamilla, 2002; Menken & Atunez, 2001).
A number of studies demonstrate evidence that bilingualism promotes metalinguistic
awareness, the ability to think abstractly about language, which has been shown to have
implications for students’ second language and literacy development. There is considerably less
research on whether or how teachers’ bilingualism might influence their work with ELL students.
Paneque and Barbetta (2006) have shown that teachers’ ability to communicate in students’ native
languages is a predictor of self-efficacy in working with those students, while Lee and Oxelson
(2006) found that teachers fluent in more than one language possessed more positive attitudes
towards the maintenance of students’ heritage languages. However, currently little is known
about how teachers’ proficiency in multiple languages might relate to their use of classroom
practices to promote ELL student success. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to address this
Research Questions and Research Design: This study used a mixed methodology. A quantitative mode of inquiry
addressed the first major research question: Are there differences between bi/multilingual and monolingual educators
with respect to their affective perceptions of teaching ELLs? Qualitative methods (i.e. thematic analyses) were then
used to examine the second research question: Which techniques do educators most frequently report using and
finding successful with their own ELL students?
Instrument: Self Efficacy Instrument for Teaching ELLs (Durgunoglu & Hughes, 2010
Analysis: ANOVA for overall mean score for the scale and MANOVA for three sub-factors, which delCampo and
Yakimowski (2012) suggested with the same scale. There were two independent variables: Educator group (Preservices vs. In-service) and Language backgroud (mono-lingual group vs. non-mono-lingual group).
Marisa DelCampo
Mary E. Yakimowski
Yujin Kim
October 2013
There were significant interaction effects between Educator group and Language background for overall
mean score and three sub-factors (F(1, 185)=5.5, P<.05 for overall means; Wilks' Lambda=.96 F(3, 183) = 2.8, p < .05
for three factors).
Regarding mono-lingual language background, pre-service teachers and In-service teachers showed quite
same level of efficacy. Meanwhile, when it come to educator who can speak other language other than English,
In-service teacher reported higher self-efficacy than pre-service teachers (see figure 1). Similar pattern was
observed for Confidence in the classroom with ELL (see figure 2). When it come to Feelings about ELL Inclusion
(see figure3), with mono-lingual background, Pre-service educators reported the highest efficacy with ELLs, but
those positive attitude decreased in In-service educator. Educators with other language experiences seemed to
maintain more realistic perspective with ELLs regardless of educator status. In terms of Making on Impact on
Students, educators with other language experiences reported higher self-efficacy in general (see figure 4).
A total of 124 out of 194 participants in the study sample answered the question about educators’ use of
successful techniques with ELLs. Of these respondents, 51.5% were from the group having other language
experience, and 48.5% were monolingual. In a thematic analysis of the strategies described by the respondents,
21 distinct themes were identified in addition to an “other” category consisting of any theme reported fewer
than five instances. The two most frequently reported theme across both bilingual and monolingual groups
were the use of visual supports and explicit vocabulary instruction or strategies.
Implications / Future Avenues
In comparing the affective perceptions and strategy usage of pre-service and in-service educators who have
proficiency in languages besides English with those who do not, we found that the ability to speak more than one language was
associated with more positive affective perceptions among educators, and that bilingual educators were significantly more likely
to name L1 support as a technique they find successful with their students. These results suggest that there are differences
between bilingual and monolingual teachers with respect to their perceptions and methods with ELL students. It is possible that
bilingual teachers have an intrinsic advantage in certain aspects of teaching others who are learning a new language.
However, given the growing numbers of ELL students in our schools, it is imperative that teachers of all
backgrounds be prepared as effective teachers of ELLs. One action that may assist is to utilize existing strengths of bilingual
educators through engagement in professional learning communities, workshops, and collaborations. Just as it is important to
recognize ELL students enter the classroom with particular resources, including linguistic, so should we recognize and value the
contributions that educators who are bilingual may be able to offer.
In teacher preparation, pre-service teachers with a range of language background and experiences may benefit
from participating in professional learning communities during their clinic experiences in order to reflect upon issues of
language use in the classroom. Such discussion may foster a richer understanding of cultural and linguistic difference among
educators of all language backgrounds and may also translate into concrete and situation-specific practices and strategies to
better tap into students’ unique cultural and linguistic strengths. Perhaps also, as has been suggested by researchers such as
Wong-Fillmore and Snow (2002), teacher preparation programs should place a greater emphasis on linguistics and language
development through additional courses geared towards that area specifically. As a future avenue of research, the impact of
bilingual professional learning communities and coursework on monolingual pre-service teachers’ classroom practices and selfefficacy is worthy of exploration.