Capstone/Dissertation Title

Finding Common Ground: The Effect of Cultural Awareness Professional Development on Teaching Practices

Term

Summer 7-23-2015

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAESL

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Laura J. Halldin

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Ann Mabbot

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Carmen Briceno

Abstract

The research question addressed is, how can professional development positively change teachers’ attitudes and interactions with English learners? The capstone was motivated by the perceived cultural distance between American trained educators and their English learners in an international school in Slovakia. It addresses how professional development on the cultural background of the learners as well as an authentic language immersion lesson have an impact on the attitudes the teachers toward their English learners. The author develops two professional development workshops for an international school employing a majority of American trained teachers in Slovakia with a high English learner population. The first workshop focuses on culture and education for the school’s high Korean population while the second is a language immersion lesson conducted in Hebrew. Through a post workshop survey followed by interviews, he concludes that there was a positive change in teachers’ attitudes toward their English learners.

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