APPROACHES TO ENSURE CHILDREN OF ALL BACKGROUNDS ACHIEVE EQUAL LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

In Australian early childhood settings, diversity is increasing daily. Presently, there are about 400 languages spoken with 16 percent of Australians speaking other languages apart from English. Similar to ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity, about 8 percent Australian children are some form of disability (Tomlinson 2014). Other attributes including living conditions, family structure, socio-economic status and emotional, physical and mental health are factors, which influence children’s development and learning trajectories. Given the varied and complex issues, it becomes clear each child has unique learning context, which may hinder quality care and education. This paper examines the different approaches/practices, which can be used by early childhood professionals to ensure children of all backgrounds achieve equal language development. One common characteristic of all the approaches will be either teacher directed or children initiated approaches.

In classrooms, teachers can affirm and acknowledge consistently children’s home lives as well as offer opportunities to bridge the worlds (Greenfield and Cocking 2014). When teaching to ensure that children of diverse backgrounds develop equal language development, engaging in a culturally familiar with the children is very critical (Gestwicki 2013). Even the daily routines can be filled with explicit or implicit cultural messages. The approaches need to be set out from the start at admission.

First, it is important to exchange information with parents concerning culture, language, as well as race (Kolb 2014; Van Lier 2014). This is critical since it serves to orient the teacher. Normally, this should take place in the first meeting between the parent and the teacher and thus, it lays the foundation for open communication regarding sensitive information including culture and race and sets the tone for the ongoing relationship. Classroom approaches play a significant role in equal language development (Sumsion et al. 2009). The use of children’s home languages by the teachers such as reading of books will highly influence (Mac Naughton et al. 2010). This strategy may involve children recording themselves while reading books in case the teacher is not sufficiently fluent in the home language. However, some parents may be opposed to the early childhood programs, which enhance bilingualism. In particular, this may be common among the English-speaking families as they might think that if teachers use other languages, then they are sacrificing instructional time allocated to English. Nevertheless, research shows exposure to other languages may enrich the ability of the children to acquire as well as comprehend languages in general (Tomlinson 2014). In addition, the non-English families may also not support the bilingual approach. They normally feel they are sending their children to particularly become fluent in English and hence, they might resist their home language. Thus, it is important for the educators to encourage so that the children’s first languages are nurtured to prevent the possibility of ever losing to speak as well as understand their first languages…

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