Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Kindergarten students attending English-immersion, international school programs in Spanish-speaking countries may be at risk for learning difficulties. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine the relationship and comparisons between factors of duration of program enrollment, home language spoken by parents and caregivers, and children’s gender (independent variables), and the English language proficiency (dependent variable) of dual language learners attending an international school where the instruction was primarily in English and the dominant language of the country was Spanish. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and Dworin’s theory of bidirectionality in bilingual language development formed the theoretical foundation for this study. Research questions addressed the relationship and differences between the variables for 204 international school kindergarten students living in Chile who spoke languages other than English at home. Archival data were analyzed using correlational and causal comparative analyses. Results from the study showed a significant relationship between English language proficiency scores and time enrolled in the program, and a significant difference in proficiency scores for students whose parents spoke some English at home. Gender differences were found in relation to the time enrolled in the program. Recommendations derived from this study include earlier enrollment, intentional instructional groupings based on language background, and a system for monitoring and assessing oral language skills of preschool students. Teacher professional development on intentional and innovative English language instructional practices can promote positive social change for preschoolers in their English language mastery as they mature to become proficient in multiple languages in Latin America.