The benefits of bilingual peers: examining educators? facilitation of supportive language strategies among emergent bilingual children and their peers
Natalia Rojas

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



New York University

Primary Discipline

Early Childhood Education
Providing Spanish-English emergent bilinguals with access to high-quality early childhood education (ECE) programs may reduce longstanding inequities in our educational systems. Yet, despite the importance of peer interactions, peers are rarely considered a solution for reducing inequality in the classroom and improving emergent bilingual learning and development. Although peer interactions may not be as constructive without educators? facilitation and support, prior research focuses on either peer interactions or educators? scaffolding of peer interactions without careful consideration of the dynamics between the two. As such, this mixed method proposes: (1) examining what supportive language strategies emergent bilingual peers use to scaffold learning (language and other) with one another; (2) exploring the social and linguistic strategies educators use to facilitate peer interactions and how these strategies facilitate peers? supportive language strategies; and (3) studying the process of co-developing with ECE educators a set of practice recommendations to facilitate peer interactions. Not only will results from this study expand our understanding of peer interactions, but by focusing on specific strategies at the emergent bilingual child and educator level, this study allows for immediate application to peer-mediated programs, ECE classroom practices, and potential educator professional learning programs.
About Natalia Rojas
Natalia Rojas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Trained as an applied developmental psychologist, her research investigates how emergent bilingual childrenâ??s interactions with teachers, caregivers, and peers shape their school readiness outcomes. As scholar who uses a range of methodologies including mixed methods and community-engaged research, her work seeks to eliminate educational inequities by developing and evaluating sustainable, system-level approaches to training and supporting teachers of culturally- and linguistically-diverse children. Some examples of her community-engaged and research-practice-policy work include a research-practice partnership with NYC district leaders, a collaborative project with the New York Immigration Coalition, and a community-based initiative to improve school readiness among immigrant children and families. Natalia Rojasâ?? research has been supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2018), and the National Science Foundation. Her work has been published in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly, AERA Open, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Journal of School Psychology. She is also a recipient of the Promising Scholar Award from the Foundation of Child Development (2023). Natalia Rojas holds a doctorate in Applied Psychology from New York Universityâ??s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

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