‘It’s not from a textbook, it’s from your real life’
Teachers’ attitudes and personal practical knowledge regarding their students’ multilingualism in Israel
Keywords:teachers’ agency, teachers’ attitudes, personal practical knowledge, immigrant experience, classroom multilingualism
This paper sets out to investigate teachers as agents in Israel, comparing Israeli born teachers with those who had past immigration experiences, regarding their attitudes toward multilingual students, personal practical knowledge and classroom practices in this field. In this study, we applied linguistic ethnography to elicit attitudinal and personal information from 20 inservice teachers. We collected participants’ data via semistructured interviews and entered additional (e.g., nonverbal) information in a researcher’s journal. We performed discourse analysis and thematic analysis to identify significant themes and indicate contributors to teachers’ agency. Data indicated attitudinal differences between immigrant and Israeli-born teachers. Immigrant teachers were found to possess personal practical knowledge that originated in their past immigration experiences. Based on this, they were able to form personal connections with immigrant students and employ diverse techniques that improved their teaching in multilingual classes. This study proposes a model of immigrant teachers’ agency shaped by teachers’ attitudes toward multilingual students in interaction with their personal practical knowledge and expressed in their classroom practices and affective behaviours. The conclusions from the study may contribute to developing teacher-training and innovative teaching techniques.
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