A Qualitative Study of the Play of Dual Language Learners in an English-Speaking Preschool



Little research has been conducted on the play of children of very low English proficiency within English-speaking preschool classrooms. In the present investigation, we recorded and described the naturalistic free play of four dual language learners (DLLs) and compared their interactions to those of four English-speaking children. Units of interaction were identified, transcribed, named, and categorized. Illustrative transcriptions of individual interactions were selected and probed more deeply. The trustworthiness of the investigation was established by triangulating these qualitative findings with a quantitative measure of children’s social participation in play. Findings indicate that DLLs play and talk with peers less frequently, interact in less sustained and positive ways, and are more reliant on teachers to support their play than their English speaking peers. Implications for scaffolding DLLs’ play in classrooms and for future research are presented.


Preschool Play Dual language learners English language learners Social development 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Early Childhood Education, CECE 216Eastern Connecticut State UniversityWillimanticUSA

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