Exploring Change in Preservice Teachers’ Beliefs about English Language Learning and Teaching

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Tarleton State University, US

2 Texas A & M University, US

Abstract

The beliefs a teacher carries into the classroom are a strong predictor of behaviour and, thus, have educational implications. With more English Language Learners (ELLs) worldwide, in mainstream classrooms in English speaking countries and in content-based classes in other countries around the globe than ever before, it is essential that preservice teachers’ beliefs about these students are understood and, when possible, altered to ensure positive and productive educational experiences. This study examined the initial language learning beliefs and attitudes toward ELLs among 354 pre-service teachers in a large public university and compared it to their beliefs after their ESL related coursework. The findings demonstrate beliefs about ELLs can be changed, influencing preservice teachers’ practices in future classrooms. Survey data collected before and after specific coursework revealed a significant shift in preservice teachers’ beliefs, indicating more alignment with current research and sound educational practice. Semi-structured focus-group interviews provided supporting evidence. These findings suggest pre-service teachers need evidence-based coursework in language development and language learning processes to overcome misconceptions regarding ELLs.

Keywords