Little by Little: Classroom Practices That Can Silence Latino KindergartnersReport as inadecuate

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CATESOL Journal, v23 n1 p110-131 2011-2012

This study explored the role of school in promoting positive bicultural and bilingual identities through the encouragement of Spanish use in 7 Latino children in 1 kindergarten classroom in North Carolina. Using a case study approach, researchers collected data through participant observations and interviews to examine the classroom practices of teachers with self-reported positive attitudes toward the use of Spanish by their students in this school. The results from the data revealed that there was a disconnect between what teachers espoused about heritage-language retention and the actual practices used to encourage native language use. While teachers openly stated in interviews that it was important for the Latino students to continue to speak and use their native language, the culture of the classroom and common practices used in this classroom failed to provide these Latino students with meaningful interactions with one another or their native English-speaking peers. In fact, mandates for silence and the separation of students in the kindergarten classroom resulted in very little use of language, whether in Spanish or in English. Implications for educators are discussed.

Descriptors: Hispanic American Students, Kindergarten, Teaching Methods, Spanish Speaking, Language Usage, Case Studies, Participant Observation, Teacher Attitudes, Cultural Relevance, Interaction, Social Influences, School Role, Semi Structured Interviews, English Language Learners, Classroom Techniques, Qualitative Research

CATESOL. P.O. Box 9200-338, Fountain Valley, CA 92708. Tel: 714-907-4033; Fax: 888-832-0501; e-mail: catesoljournal[at]; Web site:

Author: Kolano, Lan Quach; Lewis, Elizabeth R.; Kissau, Scott


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