31 SES 11 A, Teachers' Agency, Translanguaging Pedagogies and Mediation Practices in Multilingual Contexts
We explored how two teachers in a bilingual Arabic−Hebrew preschool in Israel applied major theoretical principles and concepts such as the mediation strategies based on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory. The aim of this study was to examine how teachers as agents encourage children to use their second language (L2) during teacher−child conversations. The teachers’ mediation was a response to the children’s low motivation to use Arabic (L2) and intended to encourage them to use Arabic. Vygotsky (1978) proposed the notion of the human mediator and emphasized that adults mediate and make the world accessible to children in a range of ways. The teachers' capacity to act as agents in L2 mediation is related to educational policy, teachers’ beliefs, professional and personal experience. We focused on how teachers' strategies, as well as the teachers’ reflections on their agentic behaviour, could provide models of mediation strategies for bilingual educators working in different sociolinguistic contexts in situations of social imbalance between the majority and minority language. The data were collected during one academic year. Throughout the research period, 16 observational sessions were conducted including six sessions of field notes. Each observation session lasted four hours from morning to midday. The study participants were two teachers, one Hebrew model teacher and one Arabic model teacher, as well as children using either Hebrew or Arabic as their first language (L1). The children were five to six-year-olds. The research design included a qualitative thematic analysis of the teachers’ mediation strategies and a quantitative analysis of their frequency. The results were then interpreted and discussed in the light of the teachers’ reflections on their teaching. The following content categories were extracted: explicit request for use of the L2; managing the children’s demand for translation; the teacher as a model for the L2 learner; and contributions from language experts. The observation showed that the teachers as agents applied diverse mediation strategies. Avoidance of direct translation activated children’s zone of proximal development and to boost their involvement in L2 learning. We found that both teachers frequently asked the Hebrew-using children to use Arabic. The study contributed to our knowledge about the relationship between the teachers’ perceptions and reflections of their mediation strategies and their aim to achieve a balance between the majority and minority language and to promote the social status of the latter.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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