Department of English Department of English College of Arts and Sciences
Course Descriptions
Dr. Emily Thrush

Aims and Organization: This course explores the growing diversity of the U.S. population and the implications for teaching English as a Second Language. The course gives teachers a perspective on how language and culture interact, with a focus on the impact of culture on non-English language background students' perceptions, learning styles, needs, expectations, and rate of second language acquisition as well as knowledge of the particular aspects of American culture and traditions that must be understood and used correctly by non-English language background students for successful acculturation.

Discussion will center on:

  • language minority students in multicultural classrooms,

  • the relationship of language proficiency and academic achievement,

  • sociocultural factors in teaching language minority students,

  • sociocultural contexts of language development,

  • adapting materials and developing lessons plans, and

  • working with ESL students in content area classes.


Students will look at representative research in these areas, evaluate texts, and develop strategies for working with multi-cultural classes.

Assignments and Written Work:

Students will complete multiple reading assignments in the textbook and outside scholarly research.

Students will also:

a. Keep a reaction journal on the readings. This journal will not only summarize the readings, but will give a personal reaction to the content. What in the chapter is particularly useful to the ESL teacher? How does the theoretical framework translate into classroom implementation? Does the chapter throw light on any personal experiences the student has had, in or out of the classroom?

b. Observe classes at the summer program of the Memphis City Schools, in Mexico,  or at a program convenient to you. 

c. Access the class web page and complete the assignments detailed there. You may do this in Patterson 229 or from any computer available to you that accesses the World Wide Web through any browser.

d. Find five additional readings related to one aspect of the interaction of language and culture, and present a synthesis of the research to the class on the online bulletin board, discussing how it relates to the text and adds to it.

e. Develop a set of questions and conduct an interview with either someone from another country who has been in the U.S. for at least 6 months, or someone from the U.S. who has lived in another country for at least a year. The questions should focus on cross-cultural experiences and draw on the theoretical framework from the text. The interview should be written up and submitted as a journal entry. The student may not use his or her own experience for this assignment, but may draw on that experience for the journal entries. Students in the Mexico program will be assigned teachers from the licenciatura program at the University of Guanajuato to interview.

f. Participate in online discussion on the class bulletin board.

g. Take a Final Exam

Required Text:

Multicultural Education of Children and Adolescents, Allyn and Bacon Guide. Pearson Publications, 2008. 5th ed. ISBN-10:  0205592562

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Last Updated: 3/6/12