Building preservice language teachers' capacity for content–language teacher collaboration through teacher education

Year: 2021

Author: Nguyen, Minh Hue, Turner, Marianne, Premier, Jessica

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Research has shown that collaboration between content and language teachers can be effective in the education of English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) students in content area classrooms. However, language specialists can be marginalised in schools, especially in institutionally monolingual contexts. In this paper, we draw on an adapted framework of distributed professional knowledge to conduct a self-study action research project. Through this research, we demonstrate that incorporating a focus on language–content teacher collaboration in teacher education activities can empower EAL preservice teachers for collaboration with content teachers if this is done strategically. Specifically, the EAL preservice teachers in this study had an advantage of experience and were specifically prepared for a joint planning activity to enhance their positioning. The joint planning activity involved eight pairs of EAL and content preservice teachers, with the latter receiving no specific preparation for joint planning. To explore the EAL preservice teachers’ positioning in the distributed professional knowledge following the preparation, we collected data by audio-recording the planning talks during the joint planning activity. Thematic data analysis was guided by the framework of distributed professional knowledge and positioning theory. The study found that the EAL preservice teachers undertook leading and supporting positions in different knowledge domains. We suggest that preparing EAL preservice teachers for collaboration includes positioning them strategically by helping them understand and explain their own knowledge in relation to that of content preservice teachers.