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Leveraging Language: Teacher-Identified Influences on Their Use of Linguistically Responsive Teaching

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posted on 01.08.2021, 00:00 by Sara Vroom Fick
Linguistically Responsive Pedagogy is a necessity in the increasingly multilingual classrooms that make up schools in the United States. To leverage the full linguistic repertoire of students, teachers need to implement multilingual pedagogy that flows out of an understanding of language as culturally connected and dynamic. This study examines the beliefs and practices of nine teachers within their first three years of teaching. They all graduated with a degree in education, and endorsements in ESL or bilingual education, from a small liberal arts college in the suburbs of a large metro area in the Midwest. Participants’ beliefs and classroom practices were documented through a survey and semi-structured interviews. Of the nine participants, three were teaching in a Spanish/English bilingual context, three were general education teachers, and three were English language teachers. Their teaching contexts ranged from 2nd grade to high school. Three of the teachers identified as people of color and six identified as white. All participants scored in the moderate-high to high range of positive beliefs about multilingualism and the use of additional languages in the classroom. All participants described how an understanding of multilingual theory gained through their teacher preparation program, combined with concrete experiences with minoritized languages, formed their current beliefs. However, how theory and lived experiences interacted, and therefore the specific pathways that individuals took to arrive at those beliefs, varied by their cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Teachers of color used theory to validate their lived experiences, while white teachers needed additional lived experiences. For enacted practices, participants’ scores ranged from moderate-low to moderate-high. The factors most consistently cited by participants as supporting or constraining their practices were their teaching context – specifically the linguistic philosophy embraced by their context, their access to multilingual communities and resources, and the beliefs and practices of their colleagues. The impact of their teaching contexts is examined using a systems framework, which examines policy mechanisms at the regulative, normative, and cognitive levels. The findings have implications for teacher education and development, as well as the research of multilingual pedagogy and the enactment of language beliefs in context.



Morales, P. Zitlali


Morales, P. Zitlali


Curriculum & Instruction

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Theresa Thorkildsen Razfar, Aria Schutz, Kristine Hopkins, Megan

Submitted date

August 2021

Thesis type