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Book Chapter

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Current Issues and Best Practice in Bilingual and ESL Education

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Recent research has established the importance of teacher quality in the academic success or failure of students (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Sanders, Wright, & Horn, 2004) and policy initiatives, such as NCLB, have propelled the issue of teacher quality to the forefront of educational reform in the U.S. While No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been successful in establishing minimum teacher quality standards for general educators, the act has failed to highlight the importance of quality for teachers of second language learners (Nieto. 2003).

Teacher quality is especially impo1tant for second language learners. both because of the pedagogic and Iinguistic complexities inherent in teaching English language learners (ELLs) and the historic sho1tage of teachers who have been adequately prepared to address the diverse academic, cognitive, linguistjc and sociocultural needs that ELLs present. [n addition to the ability to apply general pedagogical practices within the various content areas that all teachers must have, teachers of ELLs must also be able to understand and integrate the tenets of language acquisition and cultural diversity into classroom practice. Menken and Anrunez (2001), for example, suggested three broad areas of knowledge that teachers of ELLs must master: pedagogicaI knowledge specific to ELLs linguistic knowledge, and knowledge specific to cultural and linguistic diversity. In light of the highly specific knowledge that teachers or second language learners must hold and the complexities in applying that knowledge in the classroom, teachers must be rigorously prepared and receive ongoing support and training to be successful in supporting the academic and emotional growth of ELLs (Kandel-Cisco, Waxman, & Padron. 2008).

Unfortunately, most ELLs are not taught by teachers who receive adequate training and support (Tellez & Waxman. 2006). Estimates have indicated that nearly half of the teachers assigned to teach ELLs have not received any preparation specific to the education of language learners. About 42% of all public school teachers in the U.S. have at least one ELL in their class, but less than 3% of these teachers are certified ESL or bilingual teachers (Liagas & Synder, 2003). In a national survey of classroom teachers, for example, 57% of all teachers responded that they either "very much needed" or "somewhat needed" more information on helping students with limited English proficiency achieve to high standards (Alexander, Heaviside. & Farris. 1999). Considering the lack of appropriate training for teachers of ELLs, it is important to examine ways in which teacher quality can be enhanced. The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine how novice bilingual teachers combine the resiliency framework and teacher inquiry lo inform their classroom practice.


This Book Chapter was originally published in: P. Dam & M. Cowart (Eds.), Current issues and best practice in bilingual and ESL education. Denton, TX: Federation of North Texas Area Universities.. Publisher reserves all rights.