We know little about how English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) preservice teachers' prior experiences and beliefs shape their learning process in teacher preparation programs, particularly in the area of second language (L2) reading instruction although research on preservice teachers' antecedents has offered insights into our understanding of how they learn to become teachers (Johnson, 1992, 1994; Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001). This inquiry was designed to contribute to such knowledge.
The participants were nine ESOL pre-service teachers enrolled in an ESOL program of a large urban university in the southeastern region of the United States. Using modified versions of Language Teaching/Learning Beliefs Questionnaire (Brown & Rogers, 2002), of Multidimensional TESL Theoretical Orientation Profile (Johnson, 1992) and of the Theoretical Orientation of Reading Profile (Deford, 1985), reflective essays submitted during admission, observations, interviews, videotapings, and focus group, the study explored answers to questions regarding the influence of ESOL preservice teachers' antecedents on their learning in coursework and field experiences over three semesters. The inquiry stemmed from the framework of constructivism (Crotty, 1998), of introspection and retrospection (Scarino, 2005), and of How People Learn (Donovan & Bransford, 2005). Data were analyzed using grounded theory and constant comparative techniques (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Lincoln & Guba, 1985).
Findings indicated that faculty used various strategies to address teacher candidates' background for conceptual change and development of professional dispositions. Programmatic decisions to select teacher candidates with specific background in learning an L2 were beneficial but teacher preparation programs may need additional instruments to tap candidates' entering beliefs more effectively. Although some aspects of the participants' prior experiences were not beneficial, these experiences generally contributed to their understanding of ESOL education, visions of L2 instruction, and the development of professional dispositions as related to culturally responsive and socially just teaching in important ways. Also, participants' views of reading, visions of reading instruction, reading instruction in field experiences, and their understanding of literacy theory and pedagogy were primarily influenced by their first language reading experiences. Finally, participants were less confident in articulating a vision of L2 reading instruction because of limited L2 reading prior experiences.