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Prepared for complexity: Multicultural women teaching English as a second language

Lise M Sparrow, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Teachers of English to students of other languages in the United States face complex teaching realities. The students themselves come from diverse social, economic and political backgrounds and their needs and demands vary widely from context to context. Teachers face external pressures from the institutions in which they teach and struggle with the impact of their own visible and invisible identities on the students' learning. This thesis is a participatory inquiry into the challenges of six women teachers, all with very diverse and extensive linguistic and intercultural experiences. Over the course of six years, these teachers, in conjunction with the author, searched themselves and discussed as a group the impact of their diverse backgrounds on their approaches to teaching. Data used as the basis for the inquiry includes extensive initial individual interviews and conversations among the women, subsequent workshops given for other teachers on the topic by the group and papers and theses written with regard to their approaches to teaching for their Master's Degree theses. The literature review includes references to the sociopolitical dimensions of ESL teaching, intercultural communication, research in identity, and gender issues in education. Conclusions point to the impact of extensive intercultural experience and reflection on teacher confidence, skill building and resilience.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Educational psychology|Language arts|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Developmental psychology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Sparrow, Lise M, "Prepared for complexity: Multicultural women teaching English as a second language" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3179927.