The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Dr. James Robinson

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Schwartz

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Lavenda

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

culture, ESL, ELL, interviews, teachers


When working with English language learners from diverse backgrounds, knowledge about the cultural backgrounds of the students can promote more effective teaching and interactions. To explore how novice teachers’ knowledge of their students’ cultures affects their teaching, this qualitative study used a survey and cross-sectional, one-on-one interviews with 10 graduate assistant teachers in an M.A. TESL program teaching courses in a collegelevel IEP and College ESL program. Analysis of the surveys and interviews revealed common themes including interpersonal interaction such as group work and conflict as well as pedagogical challenges related to cultural differences. All of the participants acknowledged the importance of understanding their students’ cultures and some effects of culture on their practice. The participants who had taken a for-credit ESL and Culture course prior to the interviews were more confident in their roles and identities as teachers, scored themselves higher on the self-assessment of cultural knowledge, and were more hesitant to make generalizations about groups of students.