Supporting EAL students in regional education contexts: “It creates a huge workload and often times disappointment”
Keywords:EAL, regional schools, secondary schooling, mainstream teachers, beliefs, Bourdieu
There has been increasing attention on mainstream teacher beliefs on English as an Additional Language (EAL) students in their classrooms, particularly in regards to how these beliefs impact on teacher expectations and actions. With many teachers holding deficit beliefs towards EAL students, many have argued that professional development is one way to counter these beliefs. However, with a push for the regional settlement of migrants in Australia, there is limited understanding of mainstream teachers’ beliefs about EAL students in regional contexts. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and field, this study investigates the beliefs of teachers and principals in two regional secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. The findings suggest that while many teachers hold common misconceptions regarding EAL students, their views regarding the inclusion of these students are generally positive and both the teachers and principals are open to additional training and support. However, the prevailing issue regarding supporting EAL students is time and/or timing—a commodity that both teachers and students do not have. This paper argues that EAL support in a regional context needs to be further interrogated, identifying a variety of approaches, such as professional development for mainstream teachers, additional EAL specialist support, and after-school programs, to better meet the needs of EAL students in regional areas.
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