Initial Teacher Education

This project takes a case-study approach, examining two schools of education in Scotland, and considering whether they are training mainstream teachers effectively to meet the needs of EAL learners.

Although in the past two decades there has been a significant increase in the number of research studies which have focused on the teaching and learning of English as an Additional Language (EAL), considerably less attention has been paid to Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes particularly within the Scottish context. There are very few papers that report on research into how university Schools of Education prepare ITE students to meet the increasingly varied and diverse needs of EAL learners in mainstream subject classrooms and explore the conceptual underpinnings of university EAL courses; and there are only a few studies that require student teachers to evaluate the usefulness of their university-based EAL courses.

The study extends the authors’ preceding efforts (Foley et al., 2013) to begin to fill this gap in the literature by investigating how two large universities in Scotland prepare their secondary level ITE student teachers to engage with, and be alert to, the needs of EAL learners; how useful students find such preparation; lecturers’ perceptions of provision in this area; and students’ evaluations of the usefulness of a whole-day intervention offered by the researchers.

The study was conducted in two Schools of Education, one named in this report as University A and the other as University B, both of which offer programmes which offer students training to be specialist subject mainstream teachers the opportunity to gain the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary) (PGDE (S)) teaching qualification. 

The key aims were to investigate how two universities prepared their PGDE (S) students to meet the needs of EAL learners in mainstream schools and to consider ways in which such provision could be improved.  The research therefore set out to gather academic staff and PGDE (S) students’ views on:

  • EAL, and how best to support EAL learners in mainstream classrooms
  • what makes for good practice, and effective ITE provision, in this area
  • university ITE provision to date
  • how, and to what extent, participants’ understanding of EAL was enhanced by a one-day intervention
  • aspects which remain problematic.

These views were gathered in the following ways:

  • analysis of documentation outlining the PGDE(S) Programmes in each university;
  • a survey questionnaire for PGDE(Secondary) students in both universities
  • a survey questionnaire for all staff involved in the delivery of the PGDE (Secondary) Programme in both institutions 

Download the full research report below.

PDF EAL and university-based Initial Teacher Education PDF (1.79 MB)