ERG SES C 06, Language and Education
This paper is derived from a larger study that examined the strategies employed by teachers to support (or constrain) kindergarten children's social and emotional development. This study employed a socio-cultural theoretical framework to not only organise the data collection, but also to conceptualise the findings. In particular, the data were organised under Rogoff's (2003) three foci of analysis: the cultural-institutional, interpersonal and personal, enabling robust data to be collected, examined and reported. The cultura-institutional focus acknowledged the contribution of everything around the teacher and learners while still acknowledging the contribution of the people involved. The interpersonal focus centred on the interactions between the child and the adult, while the personal focus centres on the child. In saying this, however, while focusing on one foci, the other two were always in the background. As mentioned by Rogoff (1990), when one level becomes the focus of analysis the other two do not disappear, but rather remain in the background as "parts making up a whole activity or event" (p. 140). In addition, Vygotsky's (1987) scientific and everyday concept formation was used to conceptualise the ways in which classroom interactions contributed to children's social and emotional repertoires.
The sociocultural framework, coupled with the number of schools participating in the study enabled a number of cross case analyses to occur centering on how social and emotional development contributes to varying areas of children's overall development. This current paper examines the strategies employed by two different teachers that contributed to (or constrained) non-English speaking children's ability to learn English in the first year of attending school. As implied by this statement, this paper examines how children learned a new language in a completely foreign situation.
Specifically, this paper provides a comparison between two Western Australian kindergartens (4-year olds) where some children began the school year not speaking any English (official language). One classroom, Orville Primary, had three English as second language (ESL) children: Spanish, Italian and French. The other, Hovea Primary, had only one ESL child whose native tongue was Romanian. By mid-year, the three ESL children at Orville Primary were speaking English quite competently; however, the ESL child at Hovea Primary had begun to demonstrate regressive behaviours that appeared to hinder not only her language acquisition, but also her social skills and classroom participation. The data for this paper has been drawn from a larger study conducted in 2009 that examined the strategies used by teachers to support kindergarten children’s social and emotional development. Qualitative methodology was used to collect the data, with a multi-instrument approach employed to not only provide robust, comprehensive data, but also to offer validation. The findings indicated that there are three key factors involved in either supporting or constraining children’s second language acquisition and social skills. These were: 'a sense of belonging', 'teacher-child interactions', and ‘positive peer social interactions'. These key factors are used to organise the findings facilitating an examination of the teacher strategies that supported or constrained development in the given contexts. This paper will discuss each factor and provide examples from the data to illustrate the effect they had on the children's ability to learn another language in the classooms.
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