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Beyond "as good as" non native English -speaking teachers' comparative advantage for development of an intercultural education theory in the area of teaching English as second language

Valentin Ekiaka Nzai, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Research literature on minority education suggests cultural-match and culturally responsive teaching as appropriate educational strategies to bridge English language learners (ELLs)’ achievement gaps. However, there is little theory-based understanding of the basic premises of cultural-match and culturally responsive teaching in relation to non native English-speakers’ intercultural learning processes. A grounded theory approach was used to investigate how four in-service non native English-speaking ELL teachers were moving beyond traditional teaching practices when instructing ELL classrooms. ^ Two questionnaires, classroom observations and in-depth interviews were used to collect data during the academic years 2007–2008 and 2008–2009. Demographic data showed that participants were three female and one male with 05–29 years of teaching experiences; two were US-born citizens and two were US permanent residents. Participants learned English as PK-12 ELL students, shared the same cultural background with the majority of ELL students, and the mutual perception tests regarding these teachers’ effectiveness revealed that they were effective teachers. ^ Findings indicated that there are no casual relationship between non native English-speaking teachers’ cultural competence development and the application of culturally responsive teaching principles when teaching diverse ELL classrooms. From a culturally responsive teaching approach, data analysis highlighted teachers’ role and place in promoting the attainment of ELLs’ ultimate learning goal within a pluralistic society: the development of a bilingual-bicultural identity. Research results also demonstrated that participants held some comparative/absolute advantages; however these were little exploited by their educational institutions. ^ Overall the results challenge the traditional cultural-match assumptions recommended by some scholars (Haberman, 1986, Banks, 1998, Ladson-Billings, 1995 etc.). Findings suggest that the cultural-match as an effective educational strategy can be supported only when the following teaching - learning conditions are accomplished: (a) creative use of non native English-speaking teacher’s comparative/absolute advantages; (b) implementation of culturally responsive teaching to foster students’ full-range human potential; (c) non native English-speaking teacher’s commitment to be considered as role model by ELLs and their families; (d) non native English-speaking teacher’s commitment to apply transformative/servant leadership styles when teaching diverse ELL classrooms and; (e) teacher’s willingness to be involved in ongoing training in culturally responsive pedagogy. ^ Key words: beyond as good as, cultural competence, cultural-match, culturally responsive teaching, non native English-speaking teacher and comparative advantages.^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Ekiaka Nzai, Valentin, "Beyond "as good as" non native English -speaking teachers' comparative advantage for development of an intercultural education theory in the area of teaching English as second language" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3350025.