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Many issues that become about in a child's education turn into tough challenges for teachers, children, and also families. These issues fall under the category of "Children's Oral Language Learning" and these issues are merely a test to see just how far teachers, children and parents will go to provide the vital education that a child needs, and in the process, learning something new themselves each day. The topic and its issues that are associated with second language learning will be outlined, analysed and theorised. Following that will be the recommendations and suggestions for educators of young children in regards to second language learning.
Children who come from CALD backgrounds may find it difficult to adjust in a new school and may feel left out and/or isolated amongst other peers and teachers. As a result they may find it stressful to learn English and may express distress or frustration in school. The second issue associated with this topic is that parents who come from a CALD background may feel uncomfortable and unaware of what is going on in the school and with their children's learning because they are disadvantaged by being unable to speak or understand English. They may also feel as if their needs and more importantly their children's needs are being neglected and not met due to their inability to speak English.
The first issue that is associated with second language learning is that children who come from a CALD background may have difficulty adjusting to a new school or in an environment that they are not comfortable in, and having to learn a second language can make it more stressful for the child. The key to learning a second language, especially when it is a child that is learning the second language, is to take it one step at a time. Rushing the child through the process will only make it more stressful for both the child and the educator. The child may encounter feelings of frustration and distress, therefore making it harder for the child to adjust to the school's environment and also to get along with other peers.
Newman & Pollnitz (2005) stated everyone has their own opinions and some may feel stronger about particular issues then others. The reason as to why everyone has different beliefs and opinions is due to their upbringing, that is, what their parents believed and taught them, their environmental surroundings and the people in their community having certain beliefs and morals, therefore impacting others. Whether their opinions and morals are right or wrong, it has become a part of who they are. Nevertheless, when people express their feelings towards certain issues, they rarely take into account how another individual may feel about the comments and opinions put forward (Preston 1996).
Educators are recommended or suggested to ensure that all children are included in class discussions, getting them involved in group activities and also building and maintaining a good and collaborated relationship between the educators and children, and also between the children from CALD and non-CALD backgrounds. This could include having CALD children bring in different resources from home such as books in their own language and then having groups of children write or draw their own interpretation of the book then discussing it as a whole about what they have written or drawn.
Another example to help children feel more included and to work collaboratively with other children is to incorporate technology into the children's learning. Technology such as educational computer games can successfully enhance a child's relationship with other children and more importantly their literacy skills. This can be supported by Resnyanksy (2001) who notes that the new means of literacy through technology opens up new learning opportunities.
When working closely with children, families, communities and staff, it is crucial that early childhood educators recognise the differing values and belief systems that people have in the world. Moreover, it is important to ensure that people are aware of how they perceive difference. Parents from a CALD background may experiences feelings of distress and frustration for their child's learning and may feel as though their children's needs aren't being met. They may also feel as though their needs are being neglected and may feel that they and their children are disadvantaged in some way due to their inability to speak a second language. According to Siddiqi et al (2006), the family environment as a sphere of influence is an important aspect for children. Children's development is influenced by their family environment. For this reason family involvement is crucial to help children feel secure, loved and supported, furthermore can be seen as a step in the right direction for inclusion in the early childhood setting.
Recommendations for educators who are involved in the second language learning process in regards to this issue could include building collaborative relationships with families who come from a CALD background. Building and maintaining collaborative relationships with CALD parents can prove to an effective and worthwhile experience, thus making the second language learning process easier for the child and teacher. This can be supported by Billman et al (2005) and Tett et al (2003) who note that building collaborative and effective partnerships amongst stakeholders, particularly teachers and parents, can prove to be a worthwhile and efficient relationship between the two groups. For example, Billman et al (2005) notes that what children learn in the school environment, will trigger ongoing conversations with their parents at home. This of course can enhance the child's second language learning, as well as the partnership between the parents and the staff.
This could include teachers having afternoon tea with the parents, to make them feel more comfortable, as an afternoon tea can be less of a formal meeting so that the parents don't feel tense or awkward in that situation. To allow them to become aware of the respect and acknowledgement that educators have towards cultural diversity, teachers could ask parents to come in and bring in different resources from their background and to show them to the children and then allowing the children to explore the different resources.
Having regular afternoon teas, even if it is once a month, is crucial so that educators get to keep the parents involved in their child's learning, and to make them feel and understand that they are a valuable resource in their child's learning.
Another recommendation could be for educators to suggest to parents in relation to the HSIE outcome CCS 1.2 (Appendix 1) where they could find places where they can learn English or another second language and where they can find resources in the community to help them with the whole process. Having a multicultural day at the school or other cultural events could also be another recommendation for educators. This could help parents feel and understand that their culture is valued and respected in the school community. Also in the process children get to learn about the different cultures of the world and parents could bring in their cultural foods and music to tum it into an eventful day.
As mentioned in the HSIE outcome CCS1.1 (Refer to appendix 1) parents and educators, from both perspectives, have identified in the past and at present time that some teachers have been respectful or aware of other cultures in the school, even more so than others. They usually tend to acknowledge this factor and recognise and raise awareness towards an issue or concern towards any cultural difference (Pacini-Ketchabaw & Schecter, 2002). Moreover, when children become aware of the constructive relationship between their parents and their teachers, then it is likely for the child to form a stronger bond with their teachers (Billman et al, 2005).
Based on the HSIE outcome CUS1.3 and CUS1.4 (Refer to appendix 2) children and parents could bring in different resources such as books and pictures from their cultural background, to enhance the collaborative relationship between the educators and the parents, and also between the children and educators, and to a further extent, children's relationships with their classmates. Not only does this enhance the relationships between the stakeholders, but by bringing in different resources from various cultural backgrounds, children's literacy skills become enhanced in the process (Barratt-Pugh et al, 2003).
Educators should be aware that a child understanding of literacy starts in the home. This can be supported by Jones Diaz (2007) who state that "Young children's understandings about literacy develop within their Sociocultural and linguistic communities". (p7). Educators can incorporate more than one language practice to ensure children are getting the best possible experience. Children and families will more likely feel that their interests are valued and worthy. This can further be supported by Marsh (2002) who says that children who come from a CALD background have high chances of enhancing their literacy skills in the school environment. For example, teachers are able to incorporate opportunities into the school, in this case, enhancing a non-English speaking student's literacy skills.
Overall, cultural diversity in the home, in the school and in the broader society is an aspect of every person's life that must be valued, treated respectively and equally and must not be disregarded by individuals, especially by educators of children. Educators should also be open to new teaching aspects, especially when it is in regards to making a child feel included and also when it involves enhancing a child's literacy skills. As literacy is forever changing, so is the way that teachers teach and children learn (Makin & Jones Diaz, 2002).
As mentioned previously, technology can be seen to be a successful tool to incorporate into the child's learning when it comes to enhancing their literacy skills. However, many teachers will prefer to stick with their original teaching ways, ways in which they are familiar and comfortable with. Nevertheless, Cunningham-Andersen & Andersson (1999) note that teachers should try and avoid their own individual principles parallel to their teaching ethics to provide an education for children that will enhance crucial and beneficial developmental skills in the child's learning.