THE BILINGUAL RESEARCH JOURNAL Winter 1996, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 45-53
TEACHER ATTITUDES TOWARD THE PRINCIPLES OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND TOWARD STUDENTS' PARTICIPATION IN BILINGUAL PROGRAMS: SAME OR DIFFERENT? Fay H. Shin California State University, Stanislaus Stephen Krashen University of Southern California
794 elementary and secondary teachers filled out a questionnaire probing attitudes toward bilingual education. While support for the principles underlying bilingual education was strong, support for actual participation by students in bilingual programs was not as strong. Those with more supplementary training in ESL and bilingual education were more supportive of bilingual education.
Porter (1990) reported that in a poll taken of teachers in the Los Angeles USD in 1987 78% voted against bilingual education and in favor of a strong emphasis on English. Not mentioned, however, was why teachers voted against bilingual education. Were they opposed to the theory underlying bilingual education or were there other reasons? The purpose of this study was to investigate how bilingual education is perceived by teachers. We were specifically interested in teachers' understanding and attitudes toward the theoretical underpinnings of bilingual education, and how these attitudes compared
46 BILINGUAL RESEARCH JOURNAL/Winter 1996
to support for participation in bilingual programs. Another goal was to determine what factors influenced teacher attitudes, particularly if years of experience, special training, grade level of students taught, and their school's student population influenced opinions. Methodology Subjects: The sample consisted of 794 K-12 public school teachers from six school districts in central California. The majority (628) came from one school district. Approximately 35% of the students in these districts are limited English proficient. Fifty-six percent of the teachers worked in elementary schools and forty-four percent were secondary school teachers. Instrument: A survey was administered that covered the following topics: 1. ESL training/credentials: Responses were scored on a 1 to 4 scale. Four points were coded for teachers who said they had a Master's degree in multilingual education or TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). Three points were coded for teachers who had a Language Development Specialist (LDS), Crosscultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate, Bilingual Certificate of Competence (BCC) or Bilingual Crosscultural Language and Academic Development Certificate (BCLAD). In California, such credentials are required from school districts with high numbers of LEP students. They are obtained either by taking additional classes in second language development, multicultural education, and instructional methodology for LEP students, or by passing an examination demonstrating knowledge in these areas. The BCC and BCLAD requires second language competence in reading, writing and speaking, as well as expertise in primary language instruction and cultural knowledge. Two points were coded for teachers currently taking classes for the CLAD, BCLAD, BCC or MA, and one point for teachers with none of the above (no training in teaching ESL students). 2. Number of years of teaching experience: One point was coded for teachers who indicated that they had taught for less than two years,
Shin/Krashen/TEACHER ATTITUDES 47
two points for teachers who had taught two to five years, three points for six to nine years, and four points for more than nine years. 3. PTO portion of LEP students in the classroom: One point was granted if respondents indicated that fewer than 20% LEP students were in their classroom, two points for 20 to 40%, three for 40 to 70%, and four points for over 70%. 4. Self-rating of proficiency in another language. Responses were rated on a 1-5 scale, with 1 = not at all and 5 = very fluent. 5. Attitudes toward bilingual education were measured using...
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