Struggling Heritage Speakers in Dual-Language


Veronica Pedroza







Graduate Student


Alison Bailey



As dual langue programs increase in California, the number of heritage language learners with disabilities should also increase proportionally. While the literature indicates these students will receive benefits from being in dual language programs, they have historically faced obstacles enrolling or maintaining enrollment in the program because of misconceptions that their English language acquisition would suffer. To better understand what is happening in the larger context of the classroom and school, the present study aims to explore the preparation and experiences of elementary Spanish dual language instructional teams specifically around collaboration and inclusive practices for academically struggling Spanish heritage learners. Informed by Harkness’ theory of the developmental niche, this study uses multiple methods to better understand the internal and external components that play a role in how teaching teams collaborate and plan for the inclusive instruction of academically struggling heritage learners.


I am a Joint Doctoral student with CSULA and will be conducting this research under the supervision of my advisor. I am also a Graduate Student Researcher under Connie Kasari working with the Lab School's CST team and providing academic support to students in the English only classrooms. This study uses individual interviews and observations of planning meetings to better understand how within the context of a school, teaching teams collaborate and plan for the inclusive instruction of academically struggling heritage learners. Duration of participation in the study will be about 6 months. The study will require approximately 18 site visits.


To understand how teachers, instructional aids, and academic support providers describe:
1. their preparation for teaching academically struggling Spanish heritage learners (e.g. professional developments, credentialing coursework, classroom experiences ect.)
2. their actual experiences working with academically struggling Spanish heritage learners
3. their collaboration with other teachers, instructional aids, and academic support providers.


Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their teaching and collaboration practices which participants could find pleasure in the opportunity to share and reflect on their experiences. Participants may also find satisfaction in knowing sharing their experiences might help other teachers better serve this population. The results of this study will provide a basis for understanding how teaching teams support Heritage language learners with diverse learning needs in inclusive dual language classrooms. This information will provide the basis for developing professional development and support structures that could be used by other teachers to increase the learning opportunities for these students.


This study will be used for a master's thesis and possible publications in scholarly journals. Study findings and implications for practice will be shared with the school to inform practice and outreach efforts.




Participants will be working at the same school site and include the dual language teachers, instructional assistants, interventionists working with grades 1 & 2 as well as dual language coordinator. Participants who meet the above criteria and also have other roles at the school site still be included but will only be included in their above roles.


This proposed study will be a qualitative phenomenological study to understand my participants lived experiences and how they interpret and make meaning of the teaching context around them. Participants will be observed twice. Once during their weekly level planning meetings and once during their individual classroom planning meetings. The observations will be audio recorded and I will be a complete observer. Field memos will be used to document the meetings. Because of the subjective nature of observation data, these data will be used during the interviews to gain participant insight into the events of the two planning meetings. After the observations have been conducted, all participants will be interviewed individually. All interviews will be recorded and conducted outside of instructional and teacher planning time at a location and time convenient to each interviewee. Interviews will use a semi-structured interview protocol and participants will have complete ability to end the interview at any point, not answer questions, and have the option to review their transcribed responses for accuracy prior to coding. While reviewing their responses participants will have the ability to provide clarification of what was said but will not be able to redact the content. After each interview, I will write up a field memo to capture my initial thoughts and reflect on the interview.

Analytic Plan:
Data will be analyzed using a six-step thematic analysis. The steps include familiarization of the data, initial cod, generating themes, establishing the validity and reliability of the codes, defining and naming the themes, and interpreting and reporting. First, I will familiarize myself with the data including reviewing my observation and interview field memos and cleaning AI created transcripts from interview audio. Once the data has been prepared, I will use QDA software to manage my data. I will first use index coding to identify topics discussed by participants followed by a round of invivo coding to allow initial themes to emerge from the data. Codes will then be further refined into categories. To establish validity, the data will be triangulated through both observations and interviews. Memos will be kept documenting the analysis phase of the research project. Member checks will be used during the analysis and writing phases to increase validity. During these checks, I will be one on one with participants after their interview to share what I have seen and understood from their interview. Participants will be able to clarify what was said during the interviews and confirm if my understanding was correct.


Warning: Array to string conversion in /opt/data/www/connect/wp-content/themes/ucla-connect-test/templates/content-single-project.php on line 29




Meeting observation: Participants will be observed during two planning meetings to view how participants plan to meet the needs of their students.

Individual interviews: Modified three-part interviews designed to elicit participants focused life history, their experiences of collaborating to meet the needs of the struggling Spanish heritage learners, and how they make meaning of their experiences.


This study is a qualitative phenomenological study. This approached is used to understand how individuals experiencing a shared phenomenon interpret and make meaning of their lived experiences (Ravitch & Carl,2016). This approach is suited for my research questions because I am aiming to understand my participants lived experiences and how they interpret and make meaning of the teaching context around them (Mertens, 2015; Ravitch & Carl, 2016). Additionally, this study informs an emerging area of research. “As a method of inquiry, interviewing is most consistent with people’s ability to make meaning through language. It affirms the importance of the individual without denigrating the possibility of community and collaboration” (Seidman, 2013 p. 13). By incorporating interviews and using participants actual voices it allows me the possibility of moving forward in future research in ways that are grounded and meaningful for the population I am studying.


Participants will each receive an Informed consent form to review and sign.


The risks of this study include the possibility of mild discomfort but participants will be informed and reminded of their rights and protections as a means to mitigate their discomfort-- Specifically their right to not answer any question they are not comfortable with and the ability to withdraw participation from the study at any point without penalty. The anticipated benefits of this study outweigh the risks since understanding the participant's experience will inform professional development and the literature on how best to meet the needs of this population.


Deception is not a component of the study. Participants have the ability to participate in member checks during data-analysis and will be debriefed with a summary of findings and implications at the conclusion of the study.


After data is collected, Personal identifiers and/or codes linking the data to personal identifies will be maintained for possible future research. Files will be kept on a password protected computer as well as Box. Hard copies of any data will be kept in a locked drawer. Transcripts will be given id's that do not identify the participants. The participant's names and ID links will only be accessible by the primary investigator and will be kept in a locked cabinet in a locked room. During member checks, participants will only be able to view their own transcripts and aggregated themes.



I currently have a GSR position at the lab school. In this position, I communicate regularly regarding student progress with the ECII, Primary, and Intermediate teachers in the English only classrooms. This school year I have worked closely with the teachers and instructional aid in the EC II dual language classroom. None of the above teachers will be included in the study. I have a professional relationship with Elena Perez and Nancy Garcia since we are all academic service providers and participate in weekly Child Study Team meetings. My relationship with the dual language teachers and instructional aids in Primary and Intermediate is limited to waving hello in passing.


Teachers and staff have not yet been approached about participating in the study. Pending approval, teachers and staff will be recruited in person by me outside of classroom instructional time.


Primary Dual Language instructional team: Gabriela Cardenas – Demonstration Teacher, Olivia Lozano – Demonstration Teacher, Rosie Torres – Demonstration Teacher, Alice Garnett – Teaching Assistant, Alejandro Cabrera – Teaching Assistant.

Dual langauge Interventionists:
Nancy Garcia
Elena Perez

Dual Langauge Coordinator: Position is currently vacant but if it is filled next year I would like to include them.


Planning for the needs of students with diverse learning needs specifically in the area of literacy.




Permission to interview teachers/staff in their classrooms/offices/ or location of their choosing. Permission to observe planning meetings.








in review


Warning: Array to string conversion in /opt/data/www/connect/wp-content/themes/ucla-connect-test/templates/content-single-project.php on line 29