Episode 49: Supporting Dual Language Learners in the Classroom

Episode 49

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Dr. Lisa Lopez, an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of South Florida.  Her research agenda involves furthering our understanding of, and improving upon, the educational and environmental opportunities of Latino children in the United States. Dr. Lopez shares with the audience the strategies that work best to support the learning needs of dual language students in the classroom including what instruction models work best.

Episode #47 Quick Guide

Dr. Lisa Lopez discusses:

  • Her background as a professor at the University of South Florida and her overall academic career;
  • Her bilingual upbringing in Miami, Florida;
  • Her perception early on in life that everyone was bilingual given her childhood context;
  • When she realized that she spoke with an accent and that not everyone spoke Spanish like she did;
  • How she found her passion for Educational Psychology;
  • The strategies that Dr. Lopez has identified can help children become and stay bilingual as a professional and as a bilingual parent:
    • Engaging children in language experiences;
    • Making sure that they see the value in speaking the languages;
    • Ensuring that they have opportunities to engage with other speakers of that language;
  • How languages are managed in her home;
  • How she adds additional exposure including: having a Spanish teacher come to her home to work with her daughter, receiving Spanish instruction in school, and participating Spanish immersion summer programs;
  • How some children may be more motivated to speak the target language to someone else other than their parents;
  • How powerful talking to your child in the home language can help your child’s language development;
  • The importance of building a strong foundation in your home language to then enhance the learning process of a second language;
  • What she has found while observing dual language learners in the classroom setting;
  • The tendency for dual language learners, for a variety of reasons, to be in the back of the classroom during instruction;
  • Her advice for parents to keep an open line of communication with the educator to make sure the child is being considered in the classroom;
  • How educators that are culturally responsive and have had more training on how to work with dual language learners tend to be more successful than their peers when working with more diverse student bodies;
  • How difficult it can be for teachers to manage the needs of all the students in their classrooms;
  • What a two-way immersion program in a classroom looks like;
  • How two-way immersion programs, if implemented correctly, can be highly successful to help the needs of dual language learners;
  • The importance of being patient with two-way immersion programs because it usually takes 5-6 years to see the benefits of the programs including performing above their monolingual peers;
  • Her advice for parents not to give up on their multilingual journey and be persistent;
  • Her favorite book to read to her son: Buenas Noches, Maripositas.


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