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Bilingual Teachers' Perceptions of their Relationships with Dual Language Learning Chinese-American Preschool Children

  • Author(s): McBee, Rana
  • Advisor(s): Uchikoshi Tonkovich, Yuuko
  • et al.

Close or conflictual relationships between teachers and students relate to various student outcomes. Several child-level predictors of teacher-student relationship quality include socioeconomic status (SES), ethnic minority status, and language ability. Dual language learners (DLLs) are an underrepresented population that may be at increased risk for experiencing negative relationships with teachers due to low SES, ethnic mismatch with teachers, and actual or perceived lack of English proficiency. The present study examined how Chinese-American DLL’s proficiency in Chinese and English relates to levels of closeness, conflict, and dependency in their relationships with language-matched bilingual teachers. Data were collected from 60 Head Start preschool children (Mage = 46.35 months, SD = 7.40, 38.3% female) and their bilingual teachers (n = 29, 96.5% female). Child gender and age correlated with some aspects of relationship quality, as observed in previous studies. Chinese proficiency in vocabulary and oral comprehension, and English proficiency in understanding directions, were associated with lower levels of conflict in teacher-student relationships. Language proficiency in Chinese or English was not significantly related to teacher-student closeness, and was not significantly related to levels dependency when child age was included as a covariate. These findings suggest some aspects of teacher-student relationship quality in DLL populations, especially with language-matched teachers, might be unique from previously studied White, English monolingual populations.

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