In this paper we explore teachers’ experiences of co-teaching within a new bilingual (Arabic/ English) model in public Kindergarten schools in the United Arab Emirates. The main objective was to understand teachers’ experiences with intercultural teaching for biliteracy in this context. We interviewed six pairs of co-teachers. These co-teachers represent six of the nationalities of teachers working in public Kindergartens in Abu Dhabi, thereby representing a cross-section of the cultural context of teaching in the reformed public schools. The data highlight teachers’ varied co-teaching practices and point to aspects such as classroom management and translanguaging as aspects of classroom practice which are enhanced by co-teaching. Teachers’ experience of co-teaching and well-formed co-teaching relationships can contribute to the development of sound pedagogical practices while a lack of administrative support can create conditions which are not conducive to co-teaching. The data also show that supportive bilingual scaffolding and flexible translanguaging are seen as effective components of co-teaching to support emergent biliteracy.


Early Biliteracy, Dual Language Programme, Co-Teaching, Translanguaging, Scaffolding, Linguistic Ethnography

Author Bio(s)

Anna Dillon is the Chair of the Department of Education Studies and Associate Professor in the College of Education at Zayed University. She is the former Director of the Early Childhood Learning Center, the on-campus laboratory nursery. She has worked in education as a class teacher, head of faculty, school principal and teacher educator. Her research interests include dual language education in the early years, classroom-based research and co-teaching. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: annamarie.dillon@gmail.com.

Kay Gallagher is the Associate Dean and an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Zayed University. Kay has been involved in teacher education and teacher development in the UAE for many years and was formerly Head of Education Studies at Emirates College for Advanced Education, and prior to that was Chair of the Education department at Abu Dhabi Women’s College. In the past, Kay was a Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong and is a former school principal in her native Ireland. Kay’s research interests include language-in-education and classroom-based research. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: kay.gallagher@zu.ac.ae.


Supported by Zayed University Research Cluster Funding R17083 'Dual Language Education in the Early Years in the UAE'

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