Educating English language learners in early childhood classrooms: A survey of teachers’ sense of preparedness and self-efficacy in Washington State
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The increasingly diverse population of children in early childhood care and education settings has called attention to the growing demands being placed on teachers to effectively support these students. Current literature has focused primarily on the experiences of teachers of school-aged English language learners (ELLs). This research study builds on this literature by examining the experiences of early childhood education professionals who are teachers of ELLs. The current study analyzed survey data from 62 early childhood care and education teachers in Washington State. Survey items addressed teachers’ perceived preparedness and self-efficacy regarding ELLs in their classroom. Teachers were also asked to provide background information about their program, their students, and themselves. This information was then examined in light of its influence on teachers’ self-efficacy in teaching ELLs. The quantitative analysis conducted for this study revealed six main significant findings. First, the descriptive analysis revealed notable trends in teachers’ self-efficacy and perceived preparedness related to a need for appropriate resources and staffing support as well as concerns about effective communication with parents and guardians of ELLs. Second, inferential statistical analyses showed that teachers’ and co-teachers’ language characteristics were associated with how self-efficacious respondents felt regarding the ELLs in their classroom. Third, the training experience teachers received outside their teacher preparation programs appeared to have a positive impact on their self-efficacy scores. Fourth, teachers who had received some type of ELL, ESL, TESOL, or bilingual certification/endorsement reported significantly higher levels of self-efficacy regarding ELLs. Fifth, results indicated a notable relationship between self-efficacy scores and ELL achievement levels. Sixth, instructional format appeared to be associated with self-efficacy scores, with mainstream teachers reporting lower levels of self-efficacy than teachers in all other formats. Seventh, self-efficacy scores were strongly related to levels of perceived preparedness to teach ELLs.
- Education - Seattle