The Name Jar Project: Supporting Preservice Teachers in Working with English Language Learners


  • Theodora Kapoyannis University of Calgary



Classrooms are becoming more linguistically and culturally diverse and many educators are feeling unprepared to meet the varied needs of English language learners (ELLs). Through a larger design-based research doctoral study, I collaborated with 11 preservice teachers and 28 ELLs in Grades 2 and 3 to design and implement a literacy intervention that focused on cultivating literacy engagement to foster English language development. This paper documents the positive impact the implementation of the literacy intervention, also known as the Name Jar Project, had on supporting the preservice teachers’ emerging practice. Analysis of focus group data, preservice teachers’ written reflections, and field notes revealed that (a) the preservice teachers, through their informal learning experiences, were able to empathize with the ELLs’ strengths and challenges of learning English; (b) the service learning model provided a safe learning environment for preservice teachers to gain practical experience working with ELLs; and (c) through the research design, preservice teachers connected practice and theory to inform their future teaching experiences.

Author Biography

Theodora Kapoyannis, University of Calgary

Theodora Kapoyannis is the Director of Field Experience (On- Campus Program) in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Before completing her PhD in Languages and Diversity in 2018 , she served in many instructional leadership roles within K- 12 schools and has been a consultant for various non- profit organizations. Her research interests include language learning, literacy, pre-service education, adult learning, diversity, and design- based research.




How to Cite

Kapoyannis, T. (2021). The Name Jar Project: Supporting Preservice Teachers in Working with English Language Learners. Language and Literacy, 23(3), 45–65.