A Case Study of Bilingual and Monolingual Educators in Two Australian Early Childhood Settings

Larissa Hayes, Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Elisabeth Duursma
page. 99~123 / 2020 Vol.14 No.1


One quarter of the Australian population is born overseas and one in five Australians speak a language other than English (ABS, 2016). This has led to an increase in the number of bilingual children enrolled in early childhood settings. Despite this changing landscape there is a lack of support for bilingual children enrolled in early childhood settings as many children do not receive any assistance to maintain their home language. This study examined the understanding and perceptions of two monolingual and two bilingual early childhood educators in NSW on how to best support bilingual children. Four early childhood educators (two monolingual and two bilingual) from two different Early Childhood Centres in Australia were interviewed and asked about their knowledge and beliefs regarding bilingualism. Results showed bilingual educators to be more positive and knowledgeable about bilingualism. All educators acknowledged challenges of not being able to communicate with children and their families as they did not speak any English. Participants in this study appeared to have limited knowledge of the nature of bilingualism and had varying beliefsaround how to best support bilingual children. The results showed an inherent lack of differentiation with respect to educators' approach to pedagogy when teaching bilingual children. Implications for professional development and practice are discussed.

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