A Framework for Preparing Linguistically Responsive Teachers

Tamara Lucas, Ana María Villegas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

93 Scopus citations


The experience of Melissa, a recent graduate of a well-established teacher education program, is all too familiar. When she completed her elementary teacher certification program, Melissa had a solid understanding of child development and learning theory and was prepared to organize the classroom to foster student learning and to use varied instructional approaches to teach academic content and skills. But she had had little opportunity to learn how to teach students who are learning English as a second (or third) language. While some of her instructors had mentioned ways to adapt particular activities for students with different needs, including English language learners (ELLs), she could not recall any class sessions that focused primarily on teaching ELLs. One student in the class where she did her student teaching was an English language learner, but the teacher felt unprepared to teach that student and had arranged to have him pulled out for ESL classes for a large portion of each day. Melissa noted that when the student was in the class he mostly sat by himself and seemed lost. When she discovered she had three ELLs in her first class as a new teacher, Melissa felt panic. She realized she was not at all prepared to design instruction to incorporate them into the classroom learning community. While some teacher education programs are taking concrete steps to prepare classroom teachers like Melissa to teach ELLs (Lucas & Grinberg, 2008; see also chapters 5-12 in this volume), most programs continue to give little if any attention to doing so. This situation must change. Students who speak languages other than English are a growing presence in U.S. schools (see Valdés & Castellón, this volume). Between 1979 and 2003, the proportion of 5-to-17-year-olds in the United States speaking a language other than English increased by 161% (from 8.5% to 18.7%) (NCES, 2005). The enrollment of students with limited proficiency in English increased by 105% between 1990 and 2000, compared to a 12% overall enrollment increase (Kindler, 2002). ELLs are enrolled in classrooms across the United States-not just in coastal metropolitan areas historically home to immigrants. While some of these students are linguistically prepared to participate in mainstream classes, many continue to face challenges to learning in those contexts. Most classroom teachers, like Melissa, have had little or no preparation for providing the types of assistance ELLs need to successfully meet those challenges (Lucas & Grinberg, 2008; Zeichner, 2003).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeacher Preparation for Linguistically Diverse Classrooms
Subtitle of host publicationA Resource for Teacher Educators
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781136911408
ISBN (Print)9780415997911
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


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