As the most widely spoken language across the world, English is increasingly being learnt by non-native speakers. Particularly, elementary schools through 12th grade teach English consistently. However, there has been a challenge in terms or realizing the training objectives of the language, both from the students’ perspective and from the teachers’ stand-point. Over the years, there has been increasing focus on the methods of English language education delivery, resulting in the development and recommendation of a variety of approaches for English language instruction including: group activity, use of individualized instruction models and the use of collaborative instruction models. Additionally, inclusive learning has been used to enhance particularly the spoken English of non-native speakers. Needless to say, extensive training and effective understanding of the training methods is required to ensure that the English learning content is delivered accurately and with expected outcomes. Teachers have to be extensively prepared in terms of content, context, and classroom management.
A full comprehension of the dimensions of teaching namely, active student engagement, prior understanding of the content, catering for student diversity, continued enhancement of students’ conceptual understanding, student awareness of key learning outcomes, linkage between disciplinary and interdisciplinary theory to achieve objectives, effective use of learning materials and the environment, appropriately structured material presentation, understanding students’ feedback on teaching practices and giving appropriate feedback to students in a timely manner (Learning & Teaching, 2016). Given the scope of preparation that teachers have to undertake, it is important to note that at any given time, the extent of teacher preparation will influence their delivery capability and the capacity of the learners to understand the teaching progress. Notably, teacher preparation across various dimensions has not been easy to accomplish due to various challenges, either systematically or institutionally (Wissink & Starks, 2019). Accordingly, this study aims to explore the perspectives of teachers regarding their preparedness to teach English language learners (ELLs). In particular, there will be a focus on their academic preparation in teaching ELLs and their perceptions regarding the effects of their preparation on comprehension outcomes among learners.
English language learning is an inevitable part of every educational institution. The rate of English language learning has been increasing at approximately 10% per year across the United States. In particular the number of non-native English learners has increased over the past five years by 20%, currently standing at between 0.9% and 20% in different states of the U.S (National center for Education Statistics, 2019). Accordingly, the conventional language teaching approaches and the academic preparation of teachers forms a significant factor in determining the teaching effectiveness of the English language regardless of the targeted learners. Various studies have however shown that the training of English teachers does not effectively reflect the needs of the learners, as their capability to achieve all the teaching dimensions is affected in one way or the other (Copeland, Garton, & Burns, 2014). Teacher training institutions focus on improving the quality of service delivery, and without an understanding of the gaps in teacher preparation, it is difficult to achieve the targeted learning outcomes.
Various studies aimed at establishing the effectiveness of knowledge dissemination to ELLs from teachers, with focus on the preparation and effectiveness of the process. The results show that there is still a gap in terms of teacher perceptions of their effectiveness in disseminating comprehension knowledge to learners. Studies such as Correll (2016) showed that there is particularly an issue with meeting the needs of diverse knowledge learners in English language learning. This is particularly a result of the inclusivity that is increasingly being introduced in English language learning whereby students from native and non-native speaking backgrounds are combined to attain collaborative learning. In such an environment, teachers’ academic effectiveness would be instrumental in fostering the accomplishment of all teaching dimensions as outlined. With increasing new demands from people intending to improve their language skills even among native speakers, teachers are left with the need to fit their competencies into the competing and divergent learner needs (Samson & Collins, 2012). Because of this challenge, teacher perceptions about the effectiveness of their knowledge dissemination process also vary widely based on their variable abilities to fine-tune the teaching competencies to the student needs.
In spite of the large number of language students across the world and the existing training methods for English language teachers, challenges still exist in terms of teacher preparation to teach ELLs. These challenges span across the different teaching dimensions for the ELLs, and can be addressed by first understanding their impacts on the learners. English comprehension is one of the learning dimensions in which there has been significant impact on the lack of teacher preparation or limited preparation. The teachers themselves have different perceptions about the effectiveness of their teaching methods, pegged on the extent of preparation with which they associate. Accordingly, understanding the teachers’ perceptions about the effectiveness of their teaching methods on ELLs and the impacts of those methods on comprehension outcomes, can help to identify preparation gaps, which can be used to direct academic preparation of teachers (Wissink & Starks, 2019). Re-directing academic preparation is expected to result in better comprehension outcomes for learners regardless of whether they are native speakers or not. This study will descriptively determine the perceptions of teachers regarding the effectiveness of their academic preparation on the comprehension outcomes when teaching English language learners.
Purpose of the Study
The objective of the proposed study will be to determine the teachers’ perceptions regarding their preparation to disseminate comprehension knowledge within a diverse learners’ environment, where learners have varying needs and capabilities. The study will use the teaching dimensions of teaching to determine different perspectives that can be used by teachers to report their self-perceptions. Through the findings of the study, it will be possible to establish gaps in teacher preparation that affect the effectiveness of comprehension for ELLs.
In order to address the study objective and solve the problem at hand, the following questions will provide guidance into the intended outcomes.
- What are the academic preparation concerns among English language teachers in elementary schools?
- What are the perceptions of teachers regarding the effectiveness of their preparation for comprehension knowledge dissemination during ELLs teaching?
Significance of the Study
From the previous studies, it has not been shown how teacher preparation affects the effectiveness of comprehension during ELLs teaching. For this reason, this study contributes positively to the academic content in this subject. Moreover, the findings from this study can be practically applied to various educational contexts in determining the training gaps in English teacher education, and subsequently training teachers to effectively disseminate knowledge to diverse English learners. It is thus deductible that the study will contribute to both theory and practice, by expanding the perspectives on teacher training gaps and providing proposals that can be used to enhance teacher performance in terms of learning outcomes not only for English learners but also for students undertaking subjects in which there is a lot of diversity in learner characteristics.
Copeland, F., Garton, S., & Burns, A. (2014). Challenges in teaching English to young learners: Global perspectives and local realities. TESOL Quarterly, 48(4): 738-762. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/43268015?seq=1
Correll, PK. (2016). Teachers’ preparation to teach English Language Learners (ELLs): An investigation of perceptions, preparation, and current practices. Theses and Dissertations–Curriculum and Instruction. 19.
Learning & Teaching (2016). Dimensions of teaching. University of Adelaide. Retrieved from www.adelaide.edu.au/learning/teaching/peer-review/teaching-review/dimensions-of-teaching/
Samson, J.F., & Collins, B.A. (2012). Preparing all teachers to meet the needs of English language learners: Applying research to policy and practice for teacher effectiveness. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535608.pdf
National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). English language learners in public schools. U.S . Department of Education. Retrieved from nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgf.asp
Wissink, B., & Starks, S. (2019). Elementary teachers’ perceptions of preparedness to teach English language learners. Educational Research and Reviews, 14(10): 349-357. Retrieved from files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1216718.pdf