Attitudes toward bilingual education as perceived by Hispanic teacher candidates seeking bilingual certification: An exploratory inquiry
The demographics of the education system are quickly shifting and demonstrating a significant increase in the number of English learners in schools. Due to the exponential growth across the country and the state of Texas, it is evident the linguistic diversity of students is an area of interest to educators and educator preparation programs. Regardless of the type of learner in the bilingual setting, the benefits, or the type of program implemented, it is essential to consider attitudes toward bilingual education. The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of teacher candidates seeking bilingual certification enrolled in an educator preparation program. In addition, the study sought to examine whether there is a difference in attitudes based on selected demographics, such as knowledge base and field experiences. Theories of second language acquisition from Jim Cummins and Stephen Krashen provide the context for understanding the role of second language acquisition in bilingual education. The research design for this study was descriptive in nature, using quantitative methods to assess the attitudes of teacher candidates seeking bilingual certification. The study took place in a south Texas university where the accessible population included teacher candidates seeking bilingual certification in an educator preparation program. A 2-part survey questionnaire, Attitudes Toward Bilingual Education (ATBE), was developed. Descriptive statistics, namely, frequency and percentage distribution tables, measures of central tendency, and measures of variability were used to summarize the data. The results showed that teacher candidates seeking bilingual certification, regardless of age, semester credit hours in bilingual education, and proficiency in another language agreed with underlying principles in bilingual education. This agreement was more pronounced among those who had completed more than 60 hours of field experiences. The Attitudes Toward Bilingual Education (ATBE) survey provides data with the potential to inform educator preparation programs. Results from this study suggests that educator preparation programs have the potential to impact attitudes by implementing field experiences to include activities where teacher candidates can develop instructional strategies based on second language acquisition processes. The major contribution of this study is that it provides findings on teacher candidates who are of the same minority group as the students they are working with.