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Exploring Teachers’ Pedagogy for English Language Learners in Mainstream Classrooms Open Access


Other title
English languge learners
mainstream classroom
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Nation, Judy H
Supervisor and department
Bainbridge, Joyce (Elementary Education)
Wiltse, Lynne (Elementary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Wu, Joe (Elementary Education)
Guo, Yan (Faculty of Education University of Calgary)
Dunn, William (Secondary Education)
Johnston, I (Secondary Education)
Department of Elementary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In Alberta the influx of immigrants and refugee families from many countries has resulted in an increasing number of minority students entering mainstream classrooms. Students may have limited English skills and in some cases none at all. These students are only able to communicate in their first language. This situation is posing challenges for mainstream teachers in addressing the academic needs of these students. Teachers who are not versed in the student’s first language are at a disadvantage. This study examined the pedagogy of three teachers who were teaching mainstream classes that contained at least 50% English language learners (ELLs). Teacher pedagogy related to teaching ELLs comprises a critical factor in facilitating student success in school. The purpose of this study was to explore the pedagogy of three teachers who taught ELLs, how they adapted their instructional strategies, and the supports they deemed necessary to effectively teach ELLs. The research consisted of an interpretive inquiry case study conducted over a period of 3 months in the spring of 2011. Through one-on-one interviews, three teachers described the pedagogical approaches they used when teaching ELLs of varying linguistic and cultural backgrounds and experiences. In addition to the semi-structured interviews, field notes, and classroom observations, my own reflective research journal also provided data for the study. In analyzing the data several themes were identified which were organized into three headings: (a) challenges faced by teachers, (b) instructional approaches employed by teachers, and (c) supports the participating teachers identified as necessary for teaching ELLs. Recommendations are made in regard to university preparation programs for pre-service teachers, the need for ongoing in-services for practicing teachers, and increasing the resources for teachers to support their teaching of ELLs in mainstream classrooms.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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