Teacher Cultural Competency and Long-Term English Language Learners

Students that have been designated English Language Learners for five or more years are Long-Term English Learners. The literature review addresses some typical characteristics and experiences of students that are Long-Term English Language Learners, and the need for culturally responsive practices to meet their needs. Teacher attitudes, perceptions about English Language Learners, positionality, and opportunities to learn are integrated into the review. The author discusses linguistic awareness and culturally responsive teaching that appropriately scaffolds instruction. Professional development and teacher attitudes are inextricably linked. For this reason, these aspects are sometimes addressed together, and at other times separately. Care Theory, Socio-Cultural Theory and Positioning Theory were used as theoretical frameworks to create a protocol that indicates teacher cultural competency. This protocol was used in a qualitative study that used a short survey, observations interviews and extant data to address teacher cultural competency and its relation to the LTEL academic experience. The results of the study indicate that empathy and caring for students is the foundational and most prominent disposition in meeting the needs of LTEL students. Other dispositions that are significant are self-analysis and being a reflective practitioner, analyzing one’s own teaching practice and seeking pedagogy that meets the needs of students. Culturally competent instruction is indicated as a cyclical and recurring process of the later three dispositions. By examining teacher cultural competency, the study contributes to the literature about LTEL academic needs and has implications for leadership, professional development, teacher hiring and social justice and equity for this underserved population of students.