Language Ideologies and TESOL Educators

Written by: Mariana Alvayero Ricklefs
Published on: Jan 22, 2024

ESL Students

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF

This blog is part of the TESOL Research Professional Council (RPC) Blog Series.

Language ideologies, as a field of inquiry, have been useful to TESOL educators for understanding the complex interplay of linguistic issues (e.g., nonnative speaker accents, bilingualism, plurilingualism) and social structures (e.g., the family, classrooms, a school community). I use a question-answer format in this blog to briefly discuss language ideologies in TESOL.

What Are Language Ideologies?

In various English teaching and learning contexts, language ideologies are views and beliefs about language and speakers that influence how educators teach and interact with students (see Ricklefs, 2023 for a thorough literature review). For example, dominant language ideologies sustain monolingual pedagogical practices in several English as a second language (ESL) classrooms in the United States and also influence English as an additional language (EAL) teaching in other countries that still experience the effects of postcolonialism.

How Can I Explore Language Ideologies in My Teaching Context?

TESOL educators can use different methods and research instruments to investigate their students’ language ideologies. For instance, teachers can use critical discourse analysis (see my previous blog on CDA), questionnaires, or surveys. As a teacher educator, I was interested in learning about my ESL teacher candidates’ language ideologies and what demographic and experiential factors might influence their ideologies (see Ricklefs, 2023). For that reason, I employed a survey with items that presented ideological statements about language (Fitzsimmons-Doolan, 2011).

The survey findings yielded relevant clusters of language ideologies. The findings also demonstrated that the most influential factors were primary/native language and ESL courses taken. The least influential factor was gender. A few examples of the survey items with their corresponding findings are found in the following table.

Clusters of Language Ideologies  Language Survey Items
Language use as a marker of competence Languages are rule-based.
Plurilingualism as an asset Different forms of language are appropriate for different contexts.
Bilingualism is a complex set of skills One should be patient with people learning a second language.

 

This post first appeared on the TESOL Blog. Reprinted with permission.