Collaboration between EAL teachers and content area teachers: A teacher education perspective

Year: 2016

Author: Turner, Marianne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In the Australian Curriculum, detailed explanations of what an English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) student might find difficult appear as specialised, content-specific resources for the content areas of Mathematics, Science, History and English (e.g., ACARA, 2014). These resources offer significant potential for collaboration between EAL teachers and content area teachers. However, literature on content area teacher and EAL teacher collaboration frequently shows that teachers’ positioning and attitudes have a significant influence on the effectiveness of collaborative practices (e.g., Creese, 2005; Davison, 2006; Harper et. al., 2008; Pawan & Ortloff, 2011). In this presentation, I will propose teacher education to be a space where positioning and attitudes towards EAL-content area teacher collaboration can be explored and questioned. The presentation reports on a small-scale qualitative study on EAL and content area pre-service teacher (PST) collaboration. In the study, a collaborative opportunity was set up for PSTs of different content areas who had elected to study an ‘EAL in the mainstream’ unit and PSTs studying to be EAL teachers. The collaboration entailed content area PSTs and EAL PSTs jointly discussing ways to scaffold a particular content-specific text. At the end of semester participating students were interviewed about their perception of EAL-content area teacher collaboration. Results showed that the content area PSTs were supportive of the idea of collaboration, whereas the EAL PSTs were more ambivalent. Drawing on these findings, I will discuss possible ways to work towards the promotion of EAL-content area teacher collaboration in teacher education.References:Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2014). English as an additional language or dialect teacher resource. Annotated content descriptions: Science Foundation to Year 10. Retrieved from, A. (2005). Teacher collaboration and talk in multilingual classrooms. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Davison, C. (2006). Collaboration between ESL and content teachers: How do we know when we are doing it right? International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9, 454–475.Harper, C. A., de Jong, E. J., & Platt, E. J. (2008). Marginalizing English as a second language teacher expertise: The exclusionary consequence of No Child Left Behind. Language Policy, 7, 267–284.Pawan, F., & Ortloff, J. (2011). Sustaining collaboration: English-as-a-second language, and content area teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 463–471.