Bioecological and Sociocultural Views of Young Spanish-English Bilingual Students’ Social Interactions and Language Practices in a Kindergarten Classroom
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Bioecological and Sociocultural Views of Young Spanish-English Bilingual Students’ Social Interactions and Language Practices in a Kindergarten Classroom


This embedded single case study aimed to explore the learning experiences of children in a dual language kindergarten classroom across multiple instructional settings (i.e., whole group instruction, individual work time, and pair share) and the instructional choices made by the classroom teacher to foster their learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goals parents had for their children are also included to understand how these goals aligned with the experiences students had in the classroom. Findings revealed that the primary goal parents had in the context of this study was for their child to become bilingual. They also wanted their child to have certain types of interactions (e.g., seek and initiate conversations) in the classroom for reasons related to (1) areas where they believed their child needed to improve, (2) their hope to preserve their values and culture, and (3) their beliefs about the benefits to their child’s learning. Within the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs. Bartel utilized a teacher-directed approach where she presented the material to students (e.g., letter and word sounds) and students then practiced on their own. To encourage interactions in the classroom, she allowed students to talk with one another when working alone, incorporated activities that she thought students liked and where they learned about different cultures, and made seating arrangements that permitted students to interact with diverse peers. Particularly, observations showed that six focal students largely interacted in whole group than in any other setting by following directions, looking at the teacher, physically interacting with the activity (e.g., moving their hands, legs), and raising their hands to participate in class. In addition, focal students communicated more in Spanish during whole group instruction and more in English during individual work time, although Spanish was the language of instruction. Focal students largely communicated to inform the teacher or peers about their work, activity, and ideas. When asked about their attitudes toward the classroom activities they interacted in (e.g., including showing a drawing to a peer) their reaction was generally positive. Results from this study can help educators be more intentional in the opportunities they create for students as they learn about the limited interactions that young students experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can include when to use particular kinds of structured settings and how to embed opportunities for more student interactions. This study also highlights the importance of listening to families to (1) understand the goals that parents have for their children’s learning and (2) open communication about expectations and ways that families can support their children at home to meet their goals. Implications for research and practice are also considered.

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