Research finds teachers want more training in Multicultural and ESL Education

Children in classrooms

Research(opens in a new window) from the University of Western Sydney has found many NSW public school teachers lack the necessary training in multicultural and English as a Second Language education to meet the needs of students from language backgrounds other than English in mainstream classes.

In addition, 90% of the teachers identified English language and literacy proficiency as an important area of need for LBOTE students.

The findings are part a comprehensive study of NSW teachers’ attitudes towards cultural diversity within schools as part of Rethinking Multiculturalism/Reassessing Multicultural Education, a three year Australian Research Council(opens in a new window) project between the University of Western Sydney, the NSW Department of Education and Communities(opens in a new window) and the NSW Institute of Teachers(opens in a new window).

Associate Professor Megan Watkins from the School of Education and the Institute for Culture and Society at UWS, together with co-researchers Professor Greg Noble, Professor Kevin Dunn and Dr Garth Lean, found that both early career and more experienced teachers identified ESL as the most pressing professional development need within multicultural education.

Associate Professor Watkins says this first report from the project draws on responses to a survey from 5,128 teachers across NSW.

“The report clearly indicates that teachers are calling for a stronger emphasis on these areas within the curriculum and to be better prepared to face the challenges of increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in schools” she says.

“These are also important findings for initial teacher education as graduates clearly require greater expertise in ESL and multicultural education on entry to the profession.”

Associate Professor Watkins says the report provides a unique snapshot of the current state of multicultural education in schools and its findings are timely, given the NSW government’s introduction of a new resource allocation model which may affect the delivery of these programs.

“Together with revealing insights into what teachers saw as the areas of need in this important aspect of schooling, the report also provides a profile of the cultural and linguistic diversity of the teaching population, teachers’ attitudes towards racism in schools and the effectiveness of policies in these areas,” she says.

A copy of the report: Rethinking Multiculturalism/Reassessing Multicultural Education Project Report Number 1. Surveying NSW Public School Teachers can be obtained here(opens in a new window).


31 January 2014

Contact: Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer

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