Building a Classroom Community that Supports English Learners in Preschool Classrooms

Cindy Hoisington, Jessica Mercer-Young, Louisa Anastasopoulos, Sue Washburn


Children who speak languages other than English at home, called English Learners (ELs), English Language Learners (ELLs), or dual-language learners, now comprise over 30% of the population of Head Start classrooms. Research-based teaching practices and strategies that support language learning and promote inclusion of ELs into the classroom community make an impact and reduce the potential for EL’s later reading difficulties. At Education Development Center in Waltham, Massachusetts, a multi-faceted professional development that includes content-focused coaching, Supporting Preschoolers with Language Differences (SPLD) achieved some dramatic results in impacting the language learning of EL preschoolers. It did so by supporting teachers’ abilities to integrate three practices- collecting and using language assessment data, learning and applying language strategies, and adapting classroom activities and routines- to build a supportive language learning community for ELs. SPLD also uncovered the rich and complex interactions between coaches and teachers that contribute to supporting teacher practice.


early childhood;preschool;language learning;Els

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This journal is a publication of the NHSA and the CEME at UNC Charlotte.