How Do Early Childhood Teachers Understand and Support the Needs of Young English Language Learners?

Carolina Cabezas,Elizabeth Rouse
page. 57~78 / 2014 Vol.8 No.1


In Australia, over one third of all children in Early Childhood programs speak a first language other thanEnglish. Despite considerable work into teachers’ beliefs on cultural diversity, attention to aspects ofsecond language acquisition in the Early Years has been limited within the Early Childhood field. Thispaper reports on a small study investigating how four early childhood educators understand theory ofSecond Language Acquisition (SLA) and bilingualism, and how they cater for language-minoritystudents in their programs. The findings revealed a complex interplay between the way participantsinterpret and support the needs of these children, their experience in the field, and professional education.The teachers in the study reveal various perspectives on how SLA and bilingualism manifest during theearly years, and how they affect the learning of children with a Language Background other than English(LBOTE). The teachers also seemed to rely on experiential and intuitive approaches in planning andteaching English Language Learners (ELLs). This study brings new perspectives to understanding thenature of teachers’ beliefs and practice regarding English language learners.

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