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ERIC Number: EJ1001531
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1068-3844
Short-Term Study Abroad for Texas Preservice Teachers: On the Road from Empathy to Critical Awareness
Palmer, Deborah K.; Menard-Warwick, Julia
Multicultural Education, v19 n3 p17-26 Spr 2012
Among the coursework offered to preservice teachers at the first author's institution in 2007 was the course "Second Language Acquisition" (SLA). This course was designed to develop multicultural awareness by introducing the theory and practice of second language acquisition and helping future teachers become familiar with the struggles of immigrant students and better understand the process of cultural and linguistic adaptation these students go through in Texas schools. In May 2007 the first author taught SLA as a one-month study-abroad course to a diverse group of 11 undergraduate students in Cuernavaca, Mexico. For several, this was their first travel beyond Texas. Along with course readings and discussions, students lived with Mexican host families, visited local schools, studied Spanish, and participated in numerous lectures and excursions. An explicit goal of the program was to facilitate preservice teachers' ability to articulate a critical understanding of the needs of immigrant and second language learning students in their future public school classrooms. Specifically, the program was designed to facilitate "critical consciousness" (Freire, 2000), which the authors defined as an awareness of the larger structures of power influencing the school experiences of immigrants and ELL students and a commitment to act on their behalf. To this end, students were presented with a wide range of experiences meant to challenge them, including field trips, films, speakers, readings, discussions, and immersion with local families. At the same time, they engaged in dialogue journals with their instructor, writing two entries per week and receiving weekly responses. These dialogue journals, students' other work products from the course, pre- and post-surveys, and follow-up interviews three years after the experience served as sources of data in a qualitative research study exploring the question "what is the impact of the study-abroad experience on preservice teachers' understandings of the experiences of immigrant children in American schools?" In this article, the authors explore the teacher education and study abroad research literature on developing critical consciousness and empathy, including the construct of "interculturality," and briefly review the ways in which dialogue journals have been used to explore questions such as ours. They then present evidence from the dialogue journals and other data collected from the seven student participants who were preservice teachers, to illustrate the extent to which their affective and empathetic responses helped them begin to develop critical understanding of the systematic nature of inequality in immigrant children's lives. (Contains 1 table and 4 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mexico; Texas