Mandated to Learn, Guided to Reflect: Preservice teachers evolving understandings of English language learners

  • Amy Michele Markos


The purpose of this study was to investigate preservice teachers’ beliefs and understandings regarding English language learners (ELLs). Using a teacher-researcher methodology, this study describes the ideas of students in a state-mandated course about ELLs. I illustrate how students’ beginning understandings of ELLs, rooted in their life experiences, were narrow and race-based. I discuss how students’ previously limited understandings expanded as the course progressed. The process of identifying beliefs and then using those ideas as a reflective tool throughout the course allowed students to build on their understandings and reflect on their thinking at the same time. Findings show that students broadened their previously narrow definitions and became conscious of the changes in their thinking about ELLs.