Multilingual and monolingual children in kindergarten classrooms: exploring teacher-child interactions and engagement as learning opportunities

Langeloo, A., 2020, [Groningen]: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. 180 p.

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  • Annegien Langeloo
The importance of high quality early childhood education has been widely acknowledged. We know that interactions between child and teacher are important for their development. Multilingual children bring a different language background into the classroom and may still be acquiring Dutch, the language of schooling. There are suggestions of a negative bias towards this group, leading to teachers having lower expectations of them. Therefore we wondered: Are multilingual children involved in different types of interactions with their teachers and how could this be related to their development?
To study this, Annegien Langeloo followed 20 kindergarten classrooms for one year, observing the engagement of the 80 focal children with the activities in the classroom and their interactions with the teacher. She also followed their cognitive and literacy development through the year.
Altogether, the results showed substantial differences in the learning opportunities of children within and across classrooms. Langeloo found that multilingual and monolingual children benefited most from individual teacher-child interactions that were frequent and complex. Furthermore, children showed the most development when they were highly engaged in the educational activities. Moreover, teachers used different types of support in interaction with multilingual and monolingual children. This research shows that to optimize the learning opportunities of all children, the label ‘multilingual’ is not functional to distinguish groups. The differences between children are more subtle and complex than the label suggests. Therefore, in early childhood education, there should be more attention to a child’s background and needs, including, but not solely, a child’s language background.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Award date17-Sep-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-2461-3
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-2462-0
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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