Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Rebecca Curtis


Although the number of dual language learners is increasing in the United States, little is known about the challenges Head Start teachers and education coordinators face in working with this population. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore Head Start teachers’ and education coordinators’ perspectives regarding the support teachers need to meet the challenges of working with dual language learners. This study was grounded in Jim Cummins’s language acquisition framework, which suggests that dual language learners benefit from instruction in their native language and the language of the classroom. A basic qualitative study design was used with a purposeful sample of 8 Head Start teachers, 1 Head Start education coordinator, and 1 Head Start site manager. Semistructured interviews were conducted to explore participants’ perspectives of challenges in teaching dual language learners. Three themes emerged from the data: (a) participants had a positive outlook on using native language both in the classroom and at home, (b) perspectives on support needed to meet the challenges of working with dual language learners varied from teacher to teacher and from teachers to education coordinators, and (c) participants had a positive outlook on teaching dual language learners while recognizing the need for support in working with these learners. The study’s implications for positive social change include demonstrating the need for professional development for teachers who work with dual language learners. When teachers feel better prepared and supported to teach dual language learners, they may be able to help children have improved academic outcomes.