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REL Pacific Ask A REL Response

Teacher Preparation, Teacher Workforce
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July 2019


What does research say about teacher training models and recruitment strategies for indigenous language education programs?


Following an established REL Pacific research protocol, we conducted a web-based search for resources related to teacher training models and recruitment strategies for indigenous language education programs. Due to the limited body of research specific to indigenous language education programs, we searched for teacher recruitment and preparation strategies related to non-English language courses (see Methods section for search terms and resource selection criteria).

References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Descriptions of the resources are quoted directly from the publication abstracts. We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. Also, our search included the most commonly used research resources, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

Craven, R. G., Yeung, A. S., & Han, F. (2014). The impact of professional development and indigenous education officers on Australian teachers' indigenous teaching and learning. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online), 39(8), 85. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
The study investigated the impact of professional development (PD) in Indigenous teaching on teachers' psychological and behavioural aspects, and Indigenous students' learning engagement. Adopting a multiple-indicator-multiple-indicator-cause model, frequency of PD was found to have positive paths to teachers' self-concept in Indigenous teaching and all the teaching strategies, but had a non-significant path to students' learning, suggesting the more frequently teachers are involved in PD in Indigenous teaching, the higher self-concept they had in teaching Indigenous children and the more frequently they adopted Indigenous teaching strategies. The availability of Aboriginal Education Officers (AEOs), however, had a significant and negative path on learning engagement. That is, Indigenous students were perceived to be less engaged in learning with AEOs present in the school. An interaction effect was also found between PD and AEOs, indicating that the effectiveness of AEOs in Indigenous students' learning may depend on whether teachers actively attend PD programs.

de la Garza, K. (2016). Pedagogical mentorship as an in-service training resource: Perspectives from teachers in Guatemalan rural and indigenous schools. Global Education Review, 3(1), 45–65. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
This study analyzed challenges faced by teachers in rural and Indigenous schools, and the impact of pedagogical mentorship in contributing towards more culturally and linguistically relevant education. Using a case from Guatemala, this article explored pedagogical mentorship as an in-service teacher training resource for multi-lingual and multi-cultural rural realities. The data was drawn from a qualitative and multisite research study based on participant observation and in-depth interviews. Results demonstrated that main challenges included economic hardships, malnutrition, absence or delays in basic government social programs, and superficial teacher training in bilingual intercultural education (EBI). Teachers perceived pedagogical mentors as ‘help’ and ‘support’ inside their classrooms, where they learned from and collaborated with mentors to strengthen their pedagogical skills, primarily in subjects related to language and communication. Mentor visits were scarce and short due to mentorship program designs that failed to consider in their budgets, recruiting practices and curriculum contents; and the travel distances and rural school community languages and cultures. However, findings showed that even with program shortcomings there was a wide acceptance of pedagogical mentorship by all teachers particularly for professional development in bilingual and intercultural education. Results suggest that pedagogical mentorship offers an opportunity to enforce the long overdue right for rural and Indigenous peoples to quality and culturally relevant education.

Gizatullina, A., & Sibgatullina, A. (2018). Forming a foreign language teacher's professional competencies in a multilingual educational environment. Journal of Social Studies Education Research, 9(3), 282–295. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
This paper considers forming the professional competencies of students of the faculty of foreign languages of the teacher training university in the multilingual context. The study used the following methods: a conversation with students and teachers, participant observation, a questionnaire (99 respondents), methods of mathematical statistics for the processing of empirical data, study and analysis of current publications on the issue. Data were received on students' competence in languages; the prevailing issues in learning a second foreign language at different stages (courses) of training were revealed. The paper analyzes the results of applying the methodology of training a foreign language teacher based on the co-studying languages and the implementation of the multilingual approach to the formation of students' professional competencies in the process of curriculum training and pedagogical practice at school. Statistical processing of the obtained data confirmed the positive impact of the applied training methodology on the formation of professional competencies of future foreign language teachers.

Hanson, H., & Yoon, S. Y. (2018). Idaho's educator landscape: How is the state's teacher workforce responding to its students' needs? Portland, OR: Education Northwest, Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
Many school districts in the United States are facing severe teacher shortages (Bordonaro, 2017; Palmer, 2017; Seattle Pacific University, 2017; Whaley, 2017). In several states--including Idaho--the difficulty of hiring qualified candidates has expanded beyond historical high-need content areas such as special education and mathematics to include English language arts and elementary education (Cross, 2017). Several factors are contributing to these shortages, including an aging workforce, decreased enrollment in teacher preparation programs, and persistently high attrition from the profession (Goldring, Taie, & Riddles, 2014). In Idaho, schools struggling to fill vacancies increasingly hire less experienced and unlicensed teachers (Wootton, 2017). Meanwhile, local and state education agencies are exploring policies to support teacher recruitment and retention, such as a four-day school week or more robust salaries and a well-defined career ladder. Understanding how and where Idaho's teacher workforce has changed relative to the size and characteristics of its student population can inform state and local efforts to support teacher recruitment, development, and retention. To that end, this report describes statewide data from the 2011/12 through 2016/17 school years on changes in student enrollment and demographics, teacher preparation, the composition of the teacher workforce, and teacher turnover.

Heineke, A. J., & Cameron, Q. (2013). Teacher preparation and language policy appropriation: A qualitative investigation of Teach for America teacher in Arizona. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 21(33), 1–25. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
In this qualitative study, we examined teachers' language policy appropriation in the English-only state of Arizona. Specifically, we investigated teachers who received their professional placement and preparation through the Teach For America organization. We conducted the research in 2010 and 2011, a period when Arizona state language policy required that English learners be placed in English language development classrooms, separated from mainstream classrooms, to receive four hours of daily skill-based language instruction in language-specific content only, including grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, and conversation. Through analysis of interview data from seven current corps members and eight alumni teachers, we investigated whether and how professional preparation shaped teachers' identity and agency to implement prescriptive linguistic and instructional mandates in the classroom.

Kitchen, J., Hodson, J., & Raynor, M. (2013). Indigenous teacher education as cultural brokerage: A university/First Nations partnership to prepare Nishnawbe Aski teachers. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives, 12(1), 119–134. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
This paper studies a community-based Indigenous teacher education program in Northwestern Ontario in Canada. This program, the result of a partnership between the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council and Brock University, was designed to prepare Nishnawbe Aski to teach through a Two Worlds Orientation: unique Indigenous understandings combined with Western educational principles. The program characteristics and structure are outlined. The strengths of the program, as identified by teacher candidates and teacher educators, are explored. Challenges to teacher candidate success are also considered.

Poetsch, S., Jarrett, M., & Angelo, D. (2019). Learning and teaching Gumbaynggirr through story: Behind the scenes of professional learning workshops for teachers of an Aboriginal language. Language Documentation & Conservation, 13, 231–252. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
This study unpacks characteristics of the Gumbaynggirr context and aligns them to the rationale, development, and delivery of a set of workshops designed to support community members teaching their language in schools in New South Wales, Australia. In this community adults learn Gumbaynggirr primarily via material made available through historical and linguistic research. Community language revival endeavours have been in progress for some years and are now further expanding into schools. Supporting school teaching of languages being revived is a complex yet under-reported matter, a gap this paper starts to fill. To this end we detail how the strengths of personnel and language resources at the heart of Gumbaynggirr revival efforts allow story to emerge as a focus for the workshops. The project is a collaboration between local community members and university-based colleagues some distance away. The behind-the-scenes planning for the workshops and associated learning and teaching resources are the basis of the research reported here. Methodologically it responds to a community-determined agenda and applies a translational research intent. That is, it shows how tailored input from academic disciplines can maximize language and culture outcomes for teacher development in a revival context.

Schwieter, J. W., & Jaimes-Domínguez, J. L. (2009). Maximizing indigenous student learning in the mainstream with language and culture. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 2(3), 39–46. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
In this paper, we explore the importance of being conscious of the needs of indigenous students within the education system in order to increase their learning process and decrease their dropout rates. Specifically, we discuss how Mayan language, culture, and ideologies affect the educational outcome of Mayan students in mainstream classes in Guatemalan schools. From this discussion, we highlight the impact that these factors have on both teacher training and the education of the indigenous student population. A simple ‘teaching to learn—learning to teach’ model is explained which discusses the importance of multilingual and multicultural aspects of teacher training and real-life implications in the indigenous student learning process.

Stiles, D. B. (1997). Four successful indigenous language programs. In J. Reyhner (Ed.), Teaching Indigenous Languages (pp. 248–262). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
This paper examines four indigenous language programs to compare common components, problems, and outcomes. The programs are Cree Way in Quebec, Canada, Hualapai in Arizona, Te Kohanga Reo (Maori) in New Zealand, and Punana Leo (Hawaiian) in Hawai'i. These programs were chosen for four characteristics: (1) the languages are no longer transmitted to the younger generation (in the home or community); (2) the programs all have curriculum development, community support, parent involvement, and government support; (3) the programs exist in different countries; and (4) they are recommended as model programs for endangered indigenous languages. Each program's description covers historical background; program development; funding; parent, community, and academic involvement; and current status. Each program has a curriculum that combines indigenous language and cultural heritage, literacy, community involvement, and parent participation. Common problems are related to teacher availability, teacher training, lack of written materials, and funding. Outcomes of all programs have included decreased dropout rates, increased sense of heritage and identity, and improved test scores. It is concluded that the success of these types of programs depends on home and community initiative and involvement; culture cannot be separated from the language. It is also important to begin the program at an early age, preferably preschool; to have a firm theoretical foundation; and to have written teaching materials.

Thaman, K.H. (2013). Quality teachers for indigenous students: An imperative for the twenty-first century. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives, 12(1), 98–118. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
This paper argues that all learners need teachers who are not only professionally qualified but also culturally competent. This is particularly so with teachers of indigenous students, who face the conflicting expectations of schools and those of their home cultures. References to Pacific students will be used to illustrate some of the conflicts as well as attempts to address teaching and learning issues in Pacific Island Countries (PICs).

Yamada, R. M. (2014). Training in the community-collaborative context: A case study. Language Documentation & Conservation, 8, 326–344. Retrieved from handle/10125/24611.

From the abstract:
Emerging community-based methodologies call for collaboration with speech community members. Although motivated, community members may lack the tools or training to contribute actively. In response, many linguists deliver training workshops in documentation or preservation, while others train community members to record data. Although workshops address immediate needs, they are limited to what the individual linguist can teach. Speech community linguists may articulate goals beyond what one researcher can undertake. This creates a need for more advanced training than can be provided in the field.

This paper uses a case study example to illustrate how the need for advanced training can be met through university-based workshops. It describes the process, challenges, and outcomes of bringing a nine-member team of Kari'nja (Cariban) speakers from Konomerume, Suriname to Eugene, Oregon for the 2010 Northwest Indian Language Institute's (NILI) annual Summer Institute and the Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation (InField). Lessons learned are situated in the context of community-collaborative methodologies, and a central role for training is articulated. This paper demonstrates that collaboration need not be limited to academic and speech communities, but rather can extend to a greater population of individuals who share an interest in promoting linguistic diversity.

Yong, D. L., & Hoffman, E. S. (2014). Teacher technology narratives: Native Hawaiian views on education and change. Qualitative Report, 19(16), 1–27. Retrieved from

From the abstract:
Narrative inquiry is a method by which ‘silenced voices’ may be heard. In this study, eight Native Hawaiian teachers share their experiences of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP), or Papahana Kaiapuni, within the Hawai'i public school system. The teachers describe change over time in HLIP with a focus on technology and their perceptions of how it has enhanced preservation of the Hawaiian language. By giving voice to their views on indigenous culture and teaching, the stories provide a rich and nuanced view of growth and school reform as framed by the teachers' own words. Themes of commitment to students and community, and a renewal of Hawaiian language and culture are central elements in each teacher's story. Technology is seen as a tool that can be adapted to meet the demands of the schools and community, but only when shaped by Hawaiian values and intentional human agency.

Wolfenden, F., Buckler, A., Santos, C., & Mittelmeier, J. (2018). Education workforce initiative: Initial research. International Commission on Financing Education Opportunity (The Education Commission). Retrieved from

From the abstract:
The purpose of this initial research is to offer evidenced possibilities in the key areas of education workforce roles, recruitment, training, deployment and leadership, along with suggested areas for further research to inform innovation in the design and strengthening of the public sector education workforce. The examples described were identified through the process outlined in the methodology section of this report, whilst we recognise that separation of examples from their context is problematic—effective innovations are highly sensitive to context and uncritical transfer of initiatives is rarely successful.

The research aims to support the Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) in moving forward with engaging education leaders and other key actors in radical thinking around the design and strengthening of the education workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century. EWI policy recommendations will be drawn from a number of country level workforce reform activities and research activity associated with the production of an Education Workforce Report (EWR). This research has informed the key questions, approach and structure of the EWR as outlined in the Education Workforce Report Proposal.

Issues pertaining to teaching and learning in primary and secondary education are at the centre of the research reported here; the focus is on moving towards schools as safe places where all children/ young people are able to engage in meaningful activity. The majority of the evidence shared here relates to teachers and school leaders; evidence on learning support staff, district officials and the wider education workforce is scant. Many of the issues examined are also pertinent to the early childhood care and education sector but these are being examined in depth by the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative. Resourcing for the Education Workforce was out of scope of this initial research but the EC recognises, as outlined in the Learning Generation Report, that provision of additional finance is a critical factor in achieving a sustainable, strong and well-motivated education workforce, particularly but not exclusively, in low and middle income countries. The next stage of EWI work will consider the relative costs of current initiatives and modelling of the cost implications of proposed reforms.

EWI aims to complement the work on teacher policy design and teacher career frameworks (including salary structures) being undertaken by other bodies and institutions such as Education International, the International Task Force on Teachers for 2030 and the Teachers' Alliance, most particularly by bringing a focus on school and district leadership, the role of Education Support Professionals (ESPs) and inter-agency working


The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • “Teacher Training” AND “Indigenous Language” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”
  • “Teacher Training” AND “Language” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”
  • “Teacher Training” AND “Indigenous Language” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”
  • “Teacher Preparation” AND “Language” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”
  • “Teacher Recruitment” AND “Indigenous Language” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”
  • “Teacher Recruitment” AND “Language” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”
  • “Indigenous Language Education Programs” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”
  • “Teacher Training” AND “Language Documentation” AND “Peer Reviewed” AND “Full Text”

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC, a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, for relevant resources. Additionally, we searched the academic databases ProQuest, Google Scholar, and Scholarspace.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

REL Pacific searched ERIC and other academic journal databases for studies that were published in English-language peer-reviewed research journals within the last 25 years. REL Pacific prioritized documents that are accessible online and publicly available, and prioritized references that provide practical information based on peer-reviewed research in both social science and education policy for the community leaders who requested this Ask A REL. Sources included in this document were last accessed in July 2019. Methodological priorities and considerations were given in the review to the following:

  • Study types—randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews;
  • Target population, sample size, study duration;
  • Limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Pacific Region (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Hawai'i, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Pacific) at McREL International. This memorandum was prepared by REL Pacific under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0010, administered by McREL International. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.