A survey of Manitoba K-12 ESL teachers' perspectives on multicultural education and anti-racist education

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MacKay, Tim
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English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) programs are often regarded as one of several important vehicles for the delivery of Multicultural Education (MCE) and Anti-Racist Education (ARE). However, little attention appears to have been given to ESL teachers' awareness of MCE/ARE or to their related professional development needs. The intent of this study has been to explore: some of the attitudes and beliefs that Manitoba K-12 ESL teachers hold about MCE/ARE; the types of MCE/ARE attitudes and beliefs reflected in ESL teachers' classroom practices; the extent to which ESL teachers think they are placed in leadership positions for MCE/ARE programs; the extent to which ESL teachers believe they are professionally competent to undertake leadership for MCE/ARE programs; and ESL teacher perspectives on the effectiveness of MCE/ARE professional development and training. This study made use of a survey questionnaire distributed to Manitoba K-12 ESL teachers, followed-up by interviews with volunteers from among the questionnaire respondents. The results suggest that although most Manitoba K-12 ESL teachers hold attitudes and beliefs supportive of many of the broad goals of MCE/ARE, when probed more deeply they tend to focus more narrowly upon a primary concern with creating intergroup harmony and preventing overt acts of racism. Their common MCE/ARE practices stress sharing and respecting cultural differences. Only a few ESL teachers report undertaking MCE/ARE leadership roles, but most report a sense of competence to do so. Most ESL teachers report dissatisfaction with current MCE/ARE professional development and training initiatives. This study focuses attention on the fact that MCE and ARE constitute essential skill areas for ESL teachers and require specific training and development in order for ESL teachers to contribute to educational equity and inclusivity objectives.