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Level 7: Communicating in Multi-lingual contexts module

Over the coming days we will continue to share some core module snippets on what are we learning in our level 7 degree in Early Childhood studies to help give potential learners an insight into what to expect in terms of course content. In the blended level 7 degree students study 8 core modules which fully equips them to implement effective practice with children and families within an early years setting.

We are delighted to share another snapshot from a graduate who completed the degree with a specific focus here on Communicating in Multi-lingual contexts module, showing its true significance.  This module allows students to study current research and theories of language acquisition and communication in young children. Students learn to identity how children can be supported in the acquisition of their home or first language whilst acquiring English. The role of the adults in the family, setting and community is discussed.

This is a vital module with multilingualism common throughout the world and two thirds of people bilingual. Our nations Constitution decrees Ireland as a bilingual nation stating that the Irish language is the nation’s first official language, with English recognised as the second language, yet only 3% of people living in Ireland use Irish as a household language. The Irish Government state that early education settings are vital to the revitalisation of the Irish language to increase its use and knowledge.

Language acquisition in the early years supports identity and wellbeing, and is crucial to cognitive and social development. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all languages and cultural identities should be valued and incorporated into the child’s education as ‘children’s positive concepts of ethnic identity are related to self-esteem’ (French 2007:23).

Children communicate in various ways; therefore, the early year’s environment must stimulate them through the provision of a wide variety of materials, tools and resources. All means of communication must be valued. The practitioner plays a vital role in nurturing and supporting all languages of the setting.

Young children who are bi or multilingual have important lessons to teach us about both languages and learning. Practitioners must be mindful that children absorb powerful messages from the environment and the people in it regarding their identity and culture. Damage to self-esteem and identity construction will result if children do not encounter positive images of themselves and their heritage in the early years environment.

Therefore, while completing the degree programme students will learn about the playful practice of ‘storying’ which allows children and adults to create stories, develop roles or co-construct fantasies; how to develop narrative skills allowing children to engage in monologue, while using and reflecting on language, this will enable them to ‘tell and write stories’ with a true understanding of early mark-making and writing.

Communication and shared meanings encourage literacy in all languages of the setting. Students learn the importance of being a good language role model for children. Practitioners must create opportunities for children to engage in meaningful conversation and narrative, and provide a backdrop where literacy skills can be enhanced.

Children’s first language must be supported as this is the basis for learning a second language. Partnership with parents is fundamental in achieving this. By encouraging enhanced communication skills and supporting first, second and even third language acquisition, at a time when children are susceptible to learning, enables the adults of tomorrow to become aware of and acknowledge the multilingual world in which we now live.

The role of a practitioner is vitally important in supporting young children’s communication skills in monolingual, bilingual and multilingual contexts. Therefore, student must reflect upon, evaluate, and plan a provision that effectively addresses linguistic and symbolic diversity.

This module is also to give learners the confidence that they can complete a Level 7 in Early Childhood studies. For course details please contact Jennifer on 01 8920031 or jennifer.matteazzi@portobelloinstitute.ie or come along to one of our upcoming scheduled open days if you are considering this degree later in the year.

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