Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Inquiry Proposal

jayah's picture

For my inquiry project, I would like to focus on bilingual education for students in pre-k-kindergarten. I do not have much knowledge about bilingual education; however, doing field research at a bilingual school this semester makes me think of many challenges with bilingual education, that I want to learn more about. For example, in my placement, the teacher speaks in both English and Spanish; however, when the students move on to the next grade, the teacher will speak only English. I notice that the students respond better to Spanish, especially when they do not understand in English.

In addition to this, the students have no outside resources because many of their parents only speak Spanish. The parents ate learning with the students to recognize letters and numbers in English. My main two questions are: How can teachers better prepare students for the “English only” environment and how can teachers engage students without making them feel like they have to assimilate to the “dominant culture,” loosing a piece of themselves? I want to learn more theories behind bilingual education and expand my knowledge beyond my observations in the classroom. 


jccohen's picture

pre-k bilingual ed


Your questions in that second paragraph give a valuable focus to your project; I also like these questions together because you're recognizing the tension here between teaching toward moving into an English-only environment while also supporting students' own cultural and linguistic identities.  I'd suggest you look at the work of Sonia Nieto on this subject, and while her focus isn't on pre-school aged students, I'm thinking she could point you in that direction.  Other educators who really get at your questions, though again not so much with a focus on that age group, are Gerald Campano, Laurie Olsen, and Jim Cummins.