EDC 448 Diversity Task: Investigating the Language and Cultural Backgrounds of English Language Learners


ELL Interview, Reflection Paper & Discussion (Paper on Wikispace, discussion in class) includes Pre-Interview& Interview (4 pts); Reflection paper (6 pts); Discussion (4 pts)

Description: You will write a pre-reflection, conduct an interview with an English Language Learner, write a post-reflection, share your findings and your questions in a class discussion.
Purpose: To improve our intercultural competence so that we can learn to teach all students effectively.
RI Professional Teaching Standards: 1, 3, 4, 8, 11
Based on Area #3 of the Professional Behavior Cultural Competency Assessment [RIPTS 10, 11; INTASC 9] The culturally competent student teacher is aware of the diverse cultural groups represented in his/her classroom, investigates the sociocultural factors which influence student learning, and is able to integrate this knowledge into his/her teaching.

Interview an English Language Learner (ELL)
Goals: Increase interest in diverse backgrounds of Rhode Island ELLs; Increase familiarity with cultures of ELLs; Identify challenges facing ELLs


Part I Pre-interview reflection
Intercultural competence is defined as the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people from cultures that are different from your own culture.
Before conducting the interview, write a reflective piece on your own responses to the following questions about intercultural competence.

1. What do you think is important when communicating with people from different cultures?
2. What do you think is easy about communicating with people from different cultures?
3. What do you think is difficult about communicating with people from different cultures?
4. Have you noticed a time when a cultural misunderstanding hampered communication? Can you give an example?
5. Do you consider yourself to be an effective communicator with people from different cultures? What experiences have contributed to this perspective of yourself?


Part II Interview
Investigate an ELL’s background. Interview an ELL in your field placement. Use the following question as a guide. Feel free to modify and reword the questions to help your interviewee understand your questions. Do not linger with a question that he or she does not understand. Create your own follow-up question, if you would like more information or greater clarification. Skip questions that the ELL is having trouble answering. Be alert to signs of fatigue and, if needed, stop the interview if the ELL has difficulty answering several questions in a row. Take brief notes that you can elaborate on immediately after the interview.
  • Make note of the English difficulties heard during the interview that you notice (e.g., verb forms, agreements, pronunciation, fluency]
  • Note the questions where the ELL had trouble comprehending the question or struggled to put his/her thoughts into words.

Interview guide:
1. How long have you been in the US?
2. How long have you been studying English?
3. Do you travel to your family’s country of origin?
If yes, what do you do when you are there?
In no, what do you know about your family’s country of origin?
4. With whom do you speak English / native language?
5. When/where do you speak your native language / English?
6. What sorts of feelings and/or ideas can you express more easily in your native language, which are easier in English?
7. When you are in class, do you tend to think in English or in your native language?
8. What helps you most in learning English?
9. What does a new ELL need to know to be successful learning English in RI / in this school?
10. Are there teachers or other professionals in this school that speak your first language?
Do you feel more supported or closer to them than to your other teachers?
11. Have you noticed any differences in WAYS that people communicate in your family’s language versus the ways people communicate in English?
12. What should a teacher know about communicating in [your L1] that would help them learn to use it well?

If your interviewee’s language abilities seem up to the task, ask him/her the questions that you answered earlier:
1. What do you think is important when communicating with people from different cultures?
2. What do you think is easy about communicating with people from different cultures?
3. What do you think is difficult about communicating with people from different cultures?
4. Have you noticed a time when a cultural misunderstanding made communication difficult? Can you give an example?
5. Do you consider yourself to be an effective communicator with people from different cultures? What experiences have contributed to this perspective of yourself?


Part III: Post-interview reflection
Write a two to three paragraph reflection about your experiences and questions related to improving your cultural competence and abilities to work effectively to improve the achievement and school experiences of English language learners. If possible, compare your interviewee’s answers to your own. What questions do you have that might be answered by your peers in our upcoming discussion? What questions or concerns do you have that may take some time or advice from an expert in this area?


Part IV: Discussion - Participate in a Socratic Seminar discussion about your questions, experiences and thoughts about teaching English language learners.