Chomsky (1959) Proposed That Children Have An Innate Ability To Learn: Research Project Dissertation, NCI, Ireland
Chomsky (1959) proposed that children have an innate ability to learn language through a language acquisition device (LAD) and if the child do not use the device before puberty the language can be never learn. However, interactionist approach suggests that language acquisition is a process influenced by environment and nativist elements. Vygotsky (1978) and Bruner (1977) held the view that a child need interaction with other to support language learning. Parents are children first educators; they naturally teach children their home language. When children have good fundaments of their first language that helps them with other language development (Aistear, 2009).
The Annual Early Years Sector Profile Report 2020/2021 (Pobal, 2021, p.53) shows that Ireland became multilingual and culturally diverse very quick in the past years. The multi migration of all nations moved over to Ireland for better life, force many children to learn English as a second language. The annual report shows that there are almost 13,000 children attending early years services (EYS) with ESL, 63% of those children attending only Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) services. This brought some challenges in Early Years, however with current policies and guidelines, early years educater (EYE) can help the children and families feel welcomed, include and most important help them to reach their highest potential in learning and developing aspects. But do EYE have access to those resources or know how to implement them into practice? It is interesting to see that 87% of children with ESL attending urban areas and mostly private EYS.
The current Diversity Equality and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education (DCYA, 2016), promotes bilingualism and support EYE on how they can include children with ESL in the EYS. Parents, close relatives and EYE play huge role in children lives and are very influences on how to support language development and the same time maintenance home language (Clark, 2009, p.8).
For children with ESL leaving in Ireland or for children who just arrived to Ireland as refugees due to conflict in their own country it is very beneficial to join ECCE settings. There are lots of help around getting a place in EYS and support for new families. It is understandable that parents are nervous if their child will maintain home language or if he will learn English to be able to communicate with his/her peers. In various way second language children will get benefit from the EYS. They will get many opportunities to develop their development skills in each of those area- social development, and physical, intellectual, emotional and language development (Crain, 1992).
Bilingualism has many advantages, young children are able to explore the sounds and the meanings of several languages, providing high quality, diverse EYS and positive child- EYE- parents partnership and interactions, empower children on their identity and belonging and well-being which makes the process or language development smoother (Brower, 2014, p.105).
Learning English as a second language is a normal process and does not cause a delay in language development. However, there are still some myths and prejudices about second language and some parents and EYE take children with second language as ‘educational handicap’ and force the children to speak only English in EYS (Mills and Mills, 1993).
The research has shown that children who have learned a second language at young age demonstrate cognitive advantages, such a problem-solving skills and creativity. Children with ESL are also more open and curious to what is new and what is already known (Browne, 2009, p.9), other cultures and languages when they have foundation in other language. Bilingual children have better opportunities in a future when comes to their adolescence and career.
EYE can face one of the major challenges in ECCE settings, which is language delay in children. This can be difficult for Irish children and their parents, but when other languages than English is involved, it can be particularly challenging to find a specialist who can understand the child or have access to a suitable translator. Culture also is big issue for the EYE in the services (Mhic Mhathuna and Hill 2008, p.9). EYE could face more challenges with children with ESL whose leave in disadvantage areas. They would not be getting all of the grammatical knowledge of the ‘second’ language (Meisel 2004, p.105).
For children who join EYS without any English language could have a negative effect on their emotional development which could lead to behaviour problems. EYS need to deliver high quality diverse environments promoting other cultures, backgrounds where children learn understanding and respect to other ‘differences’ (Siolta, 2006, p9). Providing secure and comfortable set up in the classroom for the second language child (Tabor 2008, p. 85) and tailor the way they nature and extend interaction to help all children learn language and develop as active learners.
February 2, 2023
February 2, 2023