Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kathy Escamilla

Second Advisor

Susan Walsh Hopewell

Third Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Fourth Advisor

Guillermo Solano-Flores

Fifth Advisor

Lucinda Soltero-González


Based on an Ecology of Language (Hornberger, 2003, 2004) and a Language Orientations (Ruiz, 1984) theoretical framework, I investigate the ways that preschool teachers and aides use Spanish with emergent bilingual children in the classroom in addition to examining the importance that teachers and aides place on preschool emergent bilingual children’s Spanish language development. I compared and contrasted the language ecologies of five preschool classrooms comprised of Latino children and English-speaking Anglo children. These classrooms were implementing a combination of Creative Curriculum, in addition to a supplementary, "Transitional Maintenance" bilingual approach. Semi-structured interviews provided information about teachers’ and aides’ language orientations and observations of classroom instruction produced data on teachers’ and aides’ language use practices. I investigated factors influencing how teachers and aides used Spanish in the classroom via semi-structured classroom observations and observations using the CLASS observation protocol. Exploration of how the intended curriculum addressed issues of English and Spanish development for emergent bilinguals entailed interviews with administrators and review of curricular guides and teacher training materials. This comparative case study drew upon multiple sources of information (interviews with administrators, teachers, aides, and classroom observations) for five classrooms. Parents’ language orientations and home language use practices were ascertained via interviews and face-to-face administration of questionnaires. Teachers stated a range of ambivalent, moderate and strong language-as-resource orientations. Results suggest that in addition to language orientations, teachers' and aides' language abilities and teaching styles influence Spanish use in the classroom. Possessing a strong language-as-resource orientation and adopting a curriculum that values Spanish were insufficient to actively promote extensive Spanish use in the classroom. Spanish use was limited by practices such as employing lead teachers who do not speak Spanish and not granting Spanish-speaking aides a voice or pedagogical duties. Parents stated strong language-as-resource orientations and demonstrated a strong sense of agency in the promotion of Spanish in the home.