FACILITATING PRESERVICE TEACHERS’ EXAMINATION OF BELIEFS ABOUT LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY

Vilmarie Sanchez, University of New Hampshire, Durham

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine how a field-based course facilitated preservice teachers’ examination of beliefs about language and linguistic diversity. Research concerning focused field-based courses as interventions suggests such learning experiences lead to positive change in preservice teachers’ beliefs about linguistic diversity. The tendency in prior quantitative and mixed methods studies seems to be to treat attitudes as static and separate from the contexts in which they evolve. Exploring beliefs about linguistic diversity can also be a question of meaning to be researched with qualitative methods. By expanding what is known in teacher education about beliefs, this study set out to provide a more comprehensive understanding of preservice teachers’ beliefs about linguistic diversity in context. A case study approach was used to explore the nuances of five preservice teachers’ language attitudes, their reasoning, and the meaning they drew from the learning experience. An analysis of semi-structured interviews offered insights into how belief examination was facilitated by enrolling in a language and linguistic diversity undergraduate field-based course in a New England public state university’s teacher education program. The participants’ beliefs conveyed critical insights about the study of language attitudes as an evolving social process in different contexts. The evidence presented highlights the importance of providing learning experiences that allow preservice teachers to confront and understand their attitudes and assumptions about working with culturally and linguistically diverse learners. As a timely and critical inquiry in teacher education, with research and practical concerns about the conditions that facilitate examination of beliefs, this research contributes to pedagogy aimed at developing linguistically responsive teachers.