My Italian kindergarten: an investigation of preschool language teaching
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2016 Dr. Siobhan Hannan
While early natural second language acquisition often produces high levels of bilingual competence, second language learning in institutional settings is far less successful. One response has been to lower the starting age for second language instruction to preschool, but there has been limited research to date into pedagogy for language teaching tailored to early childhood education settings. This study takes an analytic autoethnographic approach to investigating teaching in a play-based bilingual program. Situated in an Italian-English kindergarten program in Melbourne, the study is an inquiry into microprocesses of second language teaching. The Bilingual Turn in education and second language research seeks to acknowledge multilingual realities, suggesting reconsideration of assumptions about language separation in education, recommending bilingual practices such as translanguaging and responsible code-switching, and proposing the adoption of Usage-Based Linguistics as a theory of second language development. This study examines records of enacted bilingual teaching using practitioner reflection, and theoretical resources drawn from the perspective of the Bilingual Turn. The project takes up two related facets of teacher language use, with one focus on English use and issues of language separation and alternation, and the other focus on Italian use and formulaic language in routines. The study finds teaching practices that maximise target language exposure may be a higher priority than language separation. On the other hand, while it may be valid to adopt intentionally bilingual teaching strategies in some settings, the learning context must be considered. Analysis of formulaic language use in routines identifies ‘scripted’ routines as a pedagogical strategy used to add frequency to opportunities for Italian language interaction in a manner compatible with a Usage-Based Linguistics approach to piecemeal repertoire building.
Keywordsteaching; bilingual education; immersion; early childhood education; preschool; kindergarten; second language teaching; routines; Usage Based Linguistics; translanguaging; multilingual turn; formulaic language; code-switching; practitioner research; analytic autoethnography; Italian
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