Leveraging Languages for Learning: Incorporating Plurilingual Pedagogies in Early Childhood Education and Care
Keywords:plurilingual pedagogies, language acquisition, linguistic repertoire, language ideology, bioecological theory
Abstract: Children are members of families and communities, and the languages learnt within these contexts contribute to a child’s sense of “belonging, being and becoming” throughout life (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009). Encouraging children to bring their home languages into early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings exposes all children to additional languages and supports key outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF; DEEWR, 2009). This article looks at the relationship between key tenets of the EYLF and conditions that support a plurilingual approach within ECEC settings, arguing that multilingualism can be encouraged and effectively supported within these environments. The authors outline Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory of development which continues to be influential in Australian ECEC, emphasizing the importance of proximal processes in child development. Examples are provided of educator behaviours set out in the EYLF that encourage linguistic diversity and promote language learning. The influence of three key variables on the valuing of languages is discussed, namely language ideologies, teacher beliefs and attitudes, and plurilingual pedagogies. Recommendations relating to the positive positioning of languages and the integration of plurilingual pedagogies into Australian ECEC contexts are provided.
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