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#8: Supporting English Language Learners in the Preschool Classroom

Featuring Dr. Ann Anderberg

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Although many preschool classrooms now include children whose first language is not English, teachers may find it challenging to effectively support young children with limited English skills. In e-clip #8, Dr. Ann Anderberg stresses the importance of continuing to support first language development in children, and gives suggestions for assisting these young learners in their acquisition of English. When teachers and parents engage in practices that support oral language development, children can develop strong language skills in both their first and second languages.

Discussion Questions for Early Childhood Teachers and Administrators

  1. What languages do the children in our program speak at home? What do we know about these languages? What are their similarities and differences to English?
  2. What are some key words and phrases we might learn in other languages to support our English language learners? How can we go about learning these phrases?
  3. How can we incorporate gestures, pictures, and other clues into our daily routines to support English acquisition?
  4. How can we plan ahead and be prepared to extend children's talk during spontaneous moments?
  5. What messages have we been sending to families about their child's language skills and the importance of their first language? How can we engage families as partners to encourage ongoing development of their child's first language?

Recommended Reading

  • Espinosa, L. (2010). Getting it right for young children from diverse backgrounds. Boston: Pearson.
  • Garcia, E.E., & Freded, E.A. (2010). Young English language learners: Current research and emerging directions for policy and practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Nemeth, K.N. (2009). Many languages, one classroom: Teaching dual and English language learners. Beltsville, MD: Gryphon House.
  • Nemeth, K.N. (2012). Basics of supporting dual language learners: An introduction for educators of children from birth through age 8. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Roberts, T.A. (2009). No limits to literacy for preschool English learners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Santos, R.M., & Ostroky, M.M. (n.d.). Understanding the impact of language differences on classroom behavior. What Works Brief #2. Nashville (Vanderbilt University): Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Available from: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/briefs/wwb2.pdf
  • Tabors, P.O. (2008). One child, two languages. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Additional Web Resources on Supporting English and Dual Language Learners


This video grew out of the Community Partners for Early Literacy project. It was made possible, in part, through the support of the U.S. Department of Education under the Early Reading First initiative.  

Video production credits for Supporting English Language Learners in the Preschool Classroom

Executive Producer: Julia DeLapp

Producer/Director: Denise Matthews

Production Coordinator: Ken Measimer

Student Production Assistants: Joan Gallagher & Sean Leser

Faculty expert: Dr. Ann Anderberg

Featured teacher: Beth Martin


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