EXAMINING NON-ESOL CLASSROOM TEACHER KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICES FOR EDUCATING SECONDARY ENGLISH LEARNERS
McLaughlin, Margaret J
Fagan, Drew S
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When describing English learners (ELs) at the secondary level, it is important to note that there can be two distinct groups of students: students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) and Long-term English learners (LTELs). The Long-term English learners are defined as students who have been in U.S. schools for at least seven years and learned English during their elementary school years. Some, nonetheless, reach secondary levels without having mastered English or the home language and may be caught in a state of semi-literacy, which is hard to escape. Adolescents newly arrived to the United States come during the critical period of adolescent development. For a majority of newly arriving adolescents, their past educational backgrounds have not prepared them for studies in core content areas at the secondary level in any education system. These learners have to work harder than their native English-speaking peers and even harder than their more literate EL peers to meet the same accountability goals. Only educated in the United States for a brief period, these students need to learn a new language, develop literacy skills in the new language, and master content area standards simultaneously. One of the most complex challenges facing educators when working with secondary ELs is how to meet their academic, cultural, and linguistic needs. The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine non-ESOL teachers’ knowledge and practices when working with secondary ELs. Participants were high school teachers in one rural school district in Maryland. Data for the study were gathered utilizing an online survey-questionnaire. The findings showed the knowledge non-ESOL teachers possess and instructional practices they use to support secondary ELs in content area courses. This study also revealed teacher perceptions of professional development needs and the willingness these teachers demonstrate to do whatever it takes to help their students.