Variations in Classroom Language Environments of Preschool Children Who Are Low Income and Linguistically Diverse

Brook Sawyer, Sally Atkins-Burnett, Lia Sandilos, Carol Scheffner Hammer, Lisa Lopez, Clancy Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research Findings: This study aimed to (a) provide an in-depth description of the frequency and type of language interactions that children who are low income and/or dual language learners (DLLs) experience in their classrooms and (b) examine whether differences exist in children’s language experiences based on children’s DLL status and level of English proficiency. Using the Language Interaction Snapshot, we observed 4 focal children in each of 72 early childhood classrooms: 1 monolingual English-speaking child (i.e., non-DLL), 1 Spanish-dominant DLL child, and 2 bilingual Spanish–English DLL children. Findings indicated that both lead and assistant teachers predominantly spoke in English and implemented few evidence-based language practices. Children spoke more often to peers than to teachers. Little variation was noted in the quality of the language environment for children based on their DLL status or language proficiency. Practice or Policy: Results suggest clear directions for professional development (PD). PD must include both lead and assistant teachers and should focus on evidence-based language strategies for facilitating children’s language development, including how to effectively teach DLLs. Teachers may also benefit from PD that supports the use of small-group activity and peer strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-416
Number of pages19
JournalEarly Education and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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