TESOL and Early Childhood Collaborative Inquiry: Joining Forces and Crossing Boundaries

Feb. 15, 2014

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 35, Issue 1, p. 39–53, 2014.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article describes a collaboration between early childhood education (ECE) faculty and teachers of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) faculty at an urban teacher preparation program in an effort to better understand ECE and TESOL candidates’ beliefs about teaching young ELLs.

The participants were 21 teacher candidates, who enrolled in a practicum course for TESOL or ECE as part of their degree program.
Data sources included: (a) ECE course syllabi; (b) ECE and TESOL candidates’ completed surveys; and (c) archived discussion-board posts.

Discussion and Implications for Teacher Educators

The findings revealed that teacher candidates recognized the importance of focused attention to language development for young ELLs, as well as how collaboration across disciplines may support future teaching of ELLs.
Candidates found the cross-program interactions to benefit them as a unique and valuable experience.
While candidates’ ratings of survey items and their discussion-board postings showed the similarities and differences in ECE and TESOL perspectives regarding ELLs, candidates from both programs were unanimous in their agreement that collaboration between ECE and TESOL teacher candidates was beneficial and would ultimately be supportive of developing their readiness for ELL pedagogy.
This clear impact on ECE candidates’ perspectives points to the potential for the deepening and broadening of their knowledge through additional joint class sessions and collaborative assignments, along with additional training focused on ELLs, which ECE candidates were receptive to based on their survey responses.
The analysis of ECE program syllabi highlighted the fact that attention to ELLs was not limited to a language and literacy course focused on ELLs, but addressed in many courses and in various ways.

Recommendations for ECE Teacher Preparation Programs

Based on these findings, the authors recommend the following collaborative approaches to better prepare ECE teacher candidates to work with young ELLs:

1. Teacher educator coplanning
Bringing together the expertise of TESOL and ECE faculty might begin simply through common time being set aside to learn about and identify shared perspectives for teacher preparation, and exchange resources, such as key readings, online learning modules, videos, and other materials that can readily be incorporated into course syllabi.
Encouraging a culture of collaboration within higher education can lead to interclass visitation, shared online course activities, and common assignments that lay the groundwork for subsequent cross-program collaborations.

2. Joint class sessions/coursework
By physically (or virtually) bringing together ECE and TESOL teacher candidates, teacher educators can model collaboration, jointly review and debrief classroom video, create small-group and partner activities that invite candidates to pool their expertise, and use these meetings as a springboard for follow-up activities, such as collaboratively constructed lesson plans.

3. ELL video cases and collaborative video review
Creating a video library of ECE classrooms with ELLs can provide models for discussion and review for teacher candidates, with the added benefit of teacher educators being able to screen, select, control for, and anticipate key findings of participants, possibilities which do not exist in regular fieldwork.

4. Common clinical experiences
If school sites can be used to place both TESOL and ECE teacher candidates, then teacher educators can develop assignments that involve observations, materials review, case-studies, and coteaching experiences that involve ELL and non-ELL classrooms.

Updated: Aug. 12, 2015