The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Integrating the Funds of Knowledge Approach into ESOL Teacher Preparation

Brian Hibbs, Dalton State College (United States)


Cho et al. (2019) explain that culturally and linguistically diverse students are “learners who are part of an ethnic and/or language group considered to be different from that of the majority population” (p. 54). Numerous scholars in recent decades have commented on the fact that public school classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse for a myriad of education, social, and/or political reasons and that, as a result, teachers must necessarily be prepared to teach students coming from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds. These learners have traditionally been viewed from a deficit perspective (Valenzuela, 1999) in that their previous cultural and linguistic experiences were not identified, understood, or valued; more recently, however, these pupils are progressively being considered from an asset-based perspective (Bartlett & García, 2011) in which their linguistic and cultural identities are supported and advanced through a variety of means. One such procedure which has gained certain notoriety in recent years is the funds of knowledge approach, defined by González et al. (2005) as “…historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or individual functioning and well-being” (p. 72). Consequently, this presentation will outline an exploratory study designed to equip ESOL pre-service teachers with the skills and strategies needed to effectively instruct these learners via the funds of knowledge approach. More specifically, the presentation will provide an overview of a course unit on the funds of knowledge approach integrated within an ESOL course intended for ESOL teacher candidates enrolled in an elementary-education program at a small liberal arts college in the southeastern United States. The presentation will begin by outlining the logistics of the course unit along with the readings, corresponding activities, and assignments that constituted the unit and subsequently providing the organization and structure of an investigation conducted in the summer semester of 2023 to document students’ perspectives concerning the strengths and weaknesses of the course unit via a mixed-methods post-course questionnaire. Finally, the presentation will review preliminary findings obtained from the study suggesting that the course unit successfully familiarized participants with both the theoretical underpinnings and specific techniques for recognizing and validating English learners’ cultural and linguistic assets.

Keywords: Culturally and linguistically diverse learners, Educator preparation, ESL, ESOL, Funds of knowledge, Teacher education


[1] Cho, H., Johnson, P., & Somiari, S. S. (2019). Service-learning as authentic practice for teacher candidates to work with English language learners. In C. A. Lenkaitis & S. Hilliker (Eds.), Engaging teacher candidates and language learners with authentic practice (pp. 35-54). IGI Global.  

[2] Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling: U.S.-Mexican youth and the politics of caring. State University of New York Press.

[3] Bartlett, L., & García, O. (2011). Additive schooling in subtractive times: Bilingual education and Dominican immigrant youth in the heights. Vanderbilt University Press.

[4] González, N., Moll. L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Routledge.  

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