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Guiding Preservice Teachers to Develop Critical Awareness in Second Language Acquisition

This project is a collaboration between Julia Menard-Warwick (UC Davis Linguistics) and Deborah Palmer, a professor of Bilingual Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Together we are exploring the impact of a short-term study-abroad course in Mexico on preservice teachers’ ability to articulate a critical understanding of the needs of second language learning students in their future public school classrooms. Research questions include: How do undergraduate preservice teachers’ articulated views of Spanish bilingual children change from beginning to end of the course experience? To what extent do the preservice teachers develop greater Spanish proficiency (grammatical and lexical) as a result of the course? What do the preservice teachers learn about processes of second language development as a result of their experiences learning and using Spanish in Mexico? To answer these questions, we are analyzing reflective bilingual journals kept by University of Texas undergraduate students (preservice teachers) during a one-month study-abroad experience in Mexico in 2007, which was led by Dr. Palmer. Our analysis involves a qualitative, thematic exploration of students’ experiential narratives for evidence of cultural learning and adaptation; it additionally involves a quantitative analysis of students’ development of Spanish vocabulary and grammatical correctness in these journals, specifically in the area of verb conjugations (preterito and imperfecto).

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