Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Christine Clark

Second Committee Member

Marilyn McKinney

Third Committee Member

Denise Davila

Fourth Committee Member

Margarita Huerta

Number of Pages

245

Abstract

The purpose of this critical ethnographic research was to examine how taking a Multicultural Education course mediated teachers’ language dispositions. Particularly, this study examined how language and culture have a profound connection that is largely unrecognized in the American education system, and how lack of respect for the home language of students by their teachers leads to negative attitudes towards the children and impedes students’ academic progress.

This study used a theoretical and conceptual framework that incorporate intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1991) as its research paradigm to understand the interaction and overlapping roles of language and culture in society, and how neoliberal economic trends manipulate this connection and negatively impact language practices in education. There is not one theory of intersectionality; hence, this research also utilized the vectors of neoliberal education policy and practice with respect to No Child Left Behind (2002) and its English-only emphasis, mainstream teachers’ deficit perspective towards linguistically diverse learners (LDL), and the postcolonial lens to deconstruct English as a canon. Intersectional theory also offered a design for effective interventions on behalf of linguistically diverse learners by tethering Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP), Critical Social Theory (CST), and delivering Quality Education (Leonardo, 2004) to establish a Linguistically Responsive Teaching Environment (LRTE).

This research employed two phases. In Phase I, participants completed a 15-minute online survey that focused on current and former teachers’ demographic information, teaching profile, education background, and teaching disposition, additionally offering open-ended critical reflection questions to solicit opinions of the participants. For Phase II, participants were selected using Criterion-i sampling from the existing Phase I participants. Personal one-hour-long face-to- face or e-interviews were conducted to achieve a comprehensive understanding of results obtained in Phase I. In summary, this study used a combination of two data sources to distill the themes and patterns related to teachers’ language dispositions, in connection with their in-class thinking and behavior while teaching the LDLs.

Largely, the study found that taking a Multicultural Education course impacts teachers’ language dispositions but in varying degrees due to interplay of other factors such as teachers’ own linguistic and cultural background, years of teaching experience, formal ESL teacher/student experience, and the amount of LDL interaction—all of which also play a vital role in shaping language dispositions of the educators. The study reaffirmed that it is easy for teachers to build connection with students of similar language or cultural background as their own. Despite their awareness about the growing numbers of linguistically and culturally diverse students, most participants felt unprepared and unsupported to teach in a linguistically responsive manner. Further, the study argues that mainstream teachers’ value-added dispositions towards LDLs’ first language reflect positively on their classroom behavior and language inclusive pedagogies, which are vital to LDLs’ academic success.

Keywords

Intersectionality; Language and Culture Interrelation; Linguistically Diverse Learner (LDL); Multicultural Education; Neoliberal Education Policy; Postcolonial Approach; Teacher Dispositions

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Language Description and Documentation | Linguistics | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

Language

English