Joys and Challenges of K–8 Second Language Teaching: A Comparative Analysis of Two Schools

Guadalupe Lopez, Master’s Candidate, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Monterey Institute of International Studies

Charea Batiste, Grades 7–8 teacher, San Benancio Middle School

Annette Dahlen, Grade 4 teacher, Oak Avenue School, Greenfield

Phyllis Edwards, Supervising Editor, National Geographic/Cengage


Children in most parts of the world grow up bilingual or multilingual, acquiring their languages at home, at school, or by being part of a multilingual society (Pinter, 2012). Although the learning contexts for child SLA vary considerably, good language teachers seem to follow certain general principles. This panel brings together three education professionals who will share the joys and challenges of teaching a second language to children. Annette Dahlen teaches English to disadvantaged Oaxacan children in Greenfield whose first languages are Triqui, Zapotec, Mixteca, or Spanish. Charea Batiste, on the other hand, teaches a Spanish cultural class to mostly monolingual English-speaking children in the Washington Union School District, located in an upper-middle class Salinas community. The experiences of both teachers provide fascinating insights into the powerful interrelationship of language and society (Mesthrie et al. 2000). Phyllis Edwards, former principal of a K–8 Greenfield school, shares an administrative perspective.