Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 47–54 | Cite as

An English-Speaking Prekindergarten Teacher for Young Latino Children: Implications of the Teacher–Child Relationship on Second Language Learning

  • Cristina Gillanders


This case study was designed to describe how an effective English-speaking prekindergarten teacher develops strategies for communicating with and teaching young English language learners. The teacher’s classroom practices to enhance her own relationship with the children promoted opportunities for the Latino children to become full participants in the classroom community. At the end of the year, the Latino children showed progress in formal and informal measures of receptive vocabulary in both English and Spanish. Findings from the study suggest the importance of the affective and social nature of second language learning in young children. Implications for practice and research are discussed.


English language learners teacher–child relationship Latino children second language learning second language acquisition prekindergarten bilingualism language learning case study Spanish receptive vocabulary English as a second language classroom community peer support language of instruction second language learners bilingual children social interactions peer relations 



The author would like to thank the Foundation for Child Development for supporting the work described in this paper. Also she would like to thank Kelly Maxwell, Debra Skinner, and Virginia Buysse for their thoughtful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript, and Dina Castro, Giselle Crawford, Cathie Feild, and Jill Fitzgerald for insightful comments on this study.


  1. August D., & Hakuta K. (Eds.), (1998). Educating language-minority children. National Academy of Sciences. National Research Council, Board on Children, Youth and Families, and Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academy PressGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker J. A., Dilly L. J., & Lacey C. L. (2003) Creating community-oriented classrooms. In C. Howes (Eds.), Teaching 4-to 8-year-olds (pp. 1–24). Baltimore, MD: Paul Brooks PublishingGoogle Scholar
  3. Birch S. H., & Ladd G. W. (1998) Children’s interpersonal behaviors and the teacher–child relationship. Developmental Psychology, 34(5), 934–946CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buysse V., Castro D. C., West T., & Skinner M. L. (2005) Addressing the needs of Latino children: A national survey of state administrators of early childhood programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 20, 146–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charmaz K. (1983) The grounded theory method: An explication and interpretation. In R.M. Emerson (Eds.), Contemporary field research: A collection of readings (pp. 109–26). Boston: Little BrownGoogle Scholar
  6. Collier V. P., & Thomas W. P. (2004) The astounding effectiveness of dual language education for all. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 2(1), 1–20Google Scholar
  7. Collins, R., & Ribeiro, R. (2004) Toward an early care and education agenda for hispanic children. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 6(2)Google Scholar
  8. Dunn L., & Dunn L. (1998) Peabody picture vocabulary test-III. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance ServicesGoogle Scholar
  9. Dunn L. M., Padilla E. R., Lugo D. E., & Dunn L. M. (1986) Test de vocabulario en imágenes peabody. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance ServiceGoogle Scholar
  10. Fassler R. (1998) Room for talk: Peer support for getting into English in an ESL kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13(3), 379–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fillmore, L. W. & Snow, C. (2000) What teachers need to know about language. Washington, DC: Clearinghouse on Languages and linguisticsGoogle Scholar
  12. Howes C., & Ritchie S. (2002) A matter of trust. New York: Teachers College PressGoogle Scholar
  13. Howes C., Hamilton C. E., & Matheson C. (1994) Children’s relationships with peers: Differential associations with aspects of the teacher–child relationships. Child Development, 65(1), 253–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hruska B. L. (2004) Constructing gender in an English dominant kindergarten: Implications for second language learners. TESOL Quarterly, 38(3), 459–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ladd G. W., Birch S. H., Buhs E. S. (1999) Children’s social and scholastic lives in kindergarten: Related spheres of influence? Child Development, 70(6), 1373–1400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mardell-Czudnowski C., Goldenberg D. S. (1998) Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning – Third Edition (DIAL-3). Circle Pines, MN: AGS PublishingGoogle Scholar
  17. Maxwell K. L., Lim C-I., & Early D. M. (2006) Early childhood teacher preparation programs in the United States: National report. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development InstituteGoogle Scholar
  18. Merriam, S. B. (1988). Case study research in education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass IncGoogle Scholar
  19. Nieto, S. & Rolón, C. (1997) Preparation and professional development of teachers: A perspective from two Latinas. In J. Jordan Irvine (Ed.), Critical knowledge for diverse teachers and learners (pp. 89–123). New York: American Association of Colleges for Teacher EducationGoogle Scholar
  20. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (2003) North Carolina Public Schools Statistical Profile. Retrieved December 15, 2004 from Scholar
  21. Norton B., & Toohey K. (2001) Changing perspectives on good language learners. TESOL Quarterly, 35(2), 307–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pianta R. C. (1999) Enhancing relationships between children and teachers. Washington, DC: American Psychological AssociationGoogle Scholar
  23. Pianta R. C., Nimetz S. L., Bennet E. (1997) Mother–child relationships, teacher–child relationships, and school outcomes in preschool and kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12, 263–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Snow C. E., Burns M. S., Griffin P. (1998) Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC.: National Academy PressGoogle Scholar
  25. Tabors P. O. (1997) One child, two languages: A guide for preschool educators of children learning English as a second language. Baltimore: Paul H. BrooksGoogle Scholar
  26. Toohey K. (1998) “Breaking them up, taking them away”: ESL students in Grade 1. TESOL Quarterly, 32(1), 61–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. U.S. Census Bureau (2004). The Hispanic Population in the United States: 2004. Detailed Tables. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2004, Ethnicity and Ancestry Statistics Branch, Population Division. Retrieved Novemver 26, 2006 from Scholar
  28. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics (2000). Statistics in brief – March 2000: Home literacy activities and signs of children’s emerging literacy, 1993–1999. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing OfficeGoogle Scholar
  29. White K., Kistner J. (1992) The influence of teacher feedback on young children’s peer preferences and perceptions. Developmental Psychology, 28(5), 933–940CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Willett J. (1995) Becoming first graders in an L2: An ethnographic study of L2 socialization. TESOL Quarterly, 29(3), 473–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zill, N., Resnick, G., Kim, K., McKey, R. H., Clark, C., & Pai-Samant, S. et al. (2001). Head Start FACES: Longitudinal Findings on Program Performance. Third Progress ReportGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FPG Child Development InstituteUniversity of North Carolina-Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations