31 SES 07 B, Multilingual socialisation and agency
Many parents send their children to bilingual education institutions as a way to expose them to a new language and encourage its acquisition at a very young age. However, the children themselves may or may not accept this step due to their agency, which may or may not diverge from their parents' wishes. The children's agentic behavior can be an expression of personal thoughts and beliefs about languages among children as young as four years old. Bilingual children's agency is a novel research domain which has been the subject of recent studies in second language acquisition. Thus, the present longitudinal research study aimed to expand our knowledge about the role of bilingual children's agency in the process of second-language acquisition in an Arabic-Hebrew-speaking preschool in Israel.
Within the ecological perspective on language learning, children's agency shapes the learning process, particularly the way children behave as they learn languages (van Lier, 2010). In the bilingual preschool educational field, recent research shows a growing interest in exploring bilingual children's agency in interaction with adults and peers (Almér, 2017; Schwartz & Palviainen, 2016; Bergroth & Palviainen, 2017). Almér (2017) focused on bilingual children's voices and beliefs about languages as aspects of their agentic behavior. Drawing on the notion of interactive agency (van Nijnatten, 2013), Almér suggests listening to bilingual children's voices about their languages and language choice not as a separated agentic behavior but as an interactive agency resulting from a dialogue with adults and peers who can hear this voice. Bergroth and Palviainen (2017) added to this discussion by exploring how children's communicative actions with peers and teachers might reflect preschool language policy. It is interesting that, in some cases, the children's agency was expressed in clear resistance to the minority language policy of using the Swedish language by communicating in Finnish. Thus, this limited research draws attention to the child not as "something that needs to be molded and guided by society in order to become a fully-fledged member" (Lanza, 2007, p. 47), but someone who should be viewed as an active agent in the language learning process.
The current study deepens our understanding of children's agency in novel language learning by analyzing verbal and non-verbal agentic behaviors in the bilingual preschool classroom as well as teachers' and parents' reflections on children's engagement in language learning. The study took place in a bilingual preschool2 in the Northern Israeli city of Haifa; both Jewish and Arab children are enrolled in the school’s dual language program. This preschool is affiliated with Hand- in-Hand and aims at promoting co-existence between Jews and Arabs, concomitantly with the development of children’s bilingual skills. In general, the program tends to provide balanced minority-majority language input and to integrate an equal number of speakers of the minority language (Arabic) and the majority language (Hebrew). In each classroom, there are two teachers who speak mostly in their native languages, thus playing the role of a model for either Hebrew or Arabic.
The following research questions were examined:
- How is bilingual children's agency reflected in their verbal and non-verbal behavior?
- How do teachers and parents reflect on the bilingual children's agency?
We applied a qualitative paradigm and used linguistic ethnography as the methodological framework. A combination of ethnographic methods (children's longitudinal classroom observations, field-notes, interviews with teachers and parents) and linguistic methods (analysis of children's talk) permitted us to generate a descriptive analysis of the children's verbal and non-verbal agentic behavior. To analyze the collected data, conversational analysis and thematic analysis were applied. Methods for collecting and processing the data were based on the legal and ethical guidelines regulating research. The bilingual children's interactive agency resulted from a dialogue with adults (teachers and parent) and peers who can hear this voice. Fifteen children aged 2.5-3.5 at the beginning of the study were enrolled in the preschool. Six were native speakers of Hebrew and 8 were native speakers of Arabic, and one child was from an English (L1) background, and was exposed to Hebrew and Arabic as L2. We applied a purposive sampling for our sample choice in order to select the information-rich cases which are representative for the target bilingual classroom population (Palinkas et al., 2015). Our close observations were focused on six children. To ensure internal diversity and representativeness of the sample, the selection criteria were gender and ethnic background. Thus, the sample included the three Hebrew (L1) speakers (one girl and two boys) and the three Arabic (L1) speakers (two girls and one boy). The data were collected during two academic years, from November 2015 through August 2017. Throughout the entire research period, field notes were carried out from November to December 2015, in order to enhance the credibility of our data and to ensure that the participants (children and teachers) have become used to our presence in the classroom (overall eight observation sessions during this period). In addition, 58 weekly observational video recording sessions have been conducted from January 2016 to August 2017. Each session lasted three hours and started at 8.30 am to 11.30 am apart from holiday periods and summer vacations. Overall, 83 hours of preschool classroom observations were transcribed and analyzed in this study. Two classroom teachers and six parents took part in semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions. The goal of these interviews was to obtain their perspective about the children's openness to languages and bilingualism, to describe situations in which their child expressed an interest in L2 inside and outside the preschool, and their behavioral patterns in response to asking to use L2 in communication with parents, teachers and peers.
We found that children were active agents in their learning environment. They expressed their thoughts regarding the novel language as meta-linguistic comments. The following three categories of the children's meta-linguistic comments emerged: (1) comments about comprehension (comments about talk, about lack of comprehension; requests for translation); (2) comments about language form; (3) peer evaluating linguistic (grammatical) correctness of talking in L2 and peer corrective feedback. In addition, the bilingual children's interactive agency was expressed in advanced learners' mediation of L2 for their peers who are novice L2 learners and peer explicate novel language teaching. We observed how 3-4 year old children negotiated the novice learners' understanding by direct translation, paraphrasing, or clarification of meanings. Moreover, some children showed their positive attitudes towards language learning by means of proactive language socialization. More specifically, during the entire study period, we observed how two Arabic (L1) speaking girls were highly engaged in social interactions with each other and their peers (both native and non-native L2 speakers) primarily during free-play. The teachers characterized the girls as socially active, talkative, "not shy" and enthusiastic about speaking in L2. Finally, the negative attitudes towards interacting in the novel language were expressed by open reluctance to use L2 and avoidance of communication in L2. The implication for teachers and policy makers lies in deeper understanding of individual differences in L2 learning and creating classroom context promoting children's interest and active engagement in L2 learning.
Almér, E. (2017). Children’s beliefs about bilingualism and language use as expressed in child-adult conversations. Multilingua, 36 (4), 401-425. Bergroth, M. & Palviainen, Å. (2017). Bilingual children as policy agents: Language policy and education policy in minority language medium Early Childhood Education and Care. Multilingua, 36 (4), 359-375. Lanza, E. (2007). Multilingualism in the family. In A. Peter & Li Wei (Eds.), Handbook of multilingualism and multilingual communication (pp. 45–67). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Green, C. A., Wisdom, J. P., Duan, N., & Hoagwood, K. (2013). Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research. Administration and policy in mental health and mental health services research, 42 (5), 533-544. Schwartz, M., & Palviainen, Å. (2016). 21st Century preschool bilingual education: Facing advantages and challenges in cross-cultural contexts. Introduction to the special issue. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 19 (6), 603-613. van Nijnatten, C. (2013). Children’s agency, children’s welfare: a dialogical approach to child development, policy and practice. Bristol: Policy Press.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.