Pre-Service Foreign Language Teachers’ Awareness of White Privilege

Shannon L. McGowan, Anne L. Kern


Over the last several years teacher preparation programs have strived to adequately prepare pre-service teachers for more diverse populations in the classroom. However, little research has been done to examine the attitudes of pre-service teachers related to white privilege. This is the qualitative report from a mixed-methods study which examined those attitudes, the quantitative report has previously been published. The quantitative portion employed a pre/post-test survey surrounding interactive activities and found a significant change in participants’ attitudes regarding social issues of privilege, such as racism and sexism (McGowan & Kern, 2014). This paper reports the ways pre-service foreign language teachers examined their understandings of white privilege. Students in a language methods course (N=19) participated in specific activities to explore how they relate privilege and oppression to their own lives and futures as teachers. A grounded theory approach was utilized to analyze the students’ responses to questions regarding the activities. From the analysis, six major themes were discovered. Three themes indicated the affordances pre-service teachers gained from the activities regarding privilege. Whereas, the other three themes indicated possible challenges in regards to privileged thinking. Suggestions for further research include determining the long-term effects of the intervention and extending the instructional intervention length.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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