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Title: “It's always the simplest little things that make the biggest difference”: What is known about the development of early oral language skills in multilingual learners and do practitioners feel able to support this in practice?
Authors: Vatter, Sophie Jade
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores early years (EY) staff’s experiences in monolingual and multilingual classrooms, and their perceptions of ‘what works’ to facilitate early oral language (OL) development in these contexts. It also considers staff’s general and personal efficacy beliefs pertaining to OL development with monolingual and multilingual learners and explores what supports staff self-efficacy beliefs. This document comprises four chapters: a systematic literature review (SLR), a critical discussion of the research methodology, an empirical project, and a reflexive synthesis. Chapter 1: What is known about the effectiveness of oral language interventions for multilingual children in the Early Years? A Systematic Literature Review. This chapter presents a SLR exploring the effectiveness of early childhood education and care (ECEC) based interventions to develop the OL skills of multilingual children. Six key papers were analysed. Findings were mixed, although some positive effects of OL interventions in relation to multilingual children’s vocabulary, oral comprehensions, sentence repetition and grammar were found. Implications were discussed which formed the basis for the subsequent empirical project. This paper is written in the style of the nominated journal: British Journal of Developmental Psychology. Chapter 2: A critical reflection of research methodology and ethical considerations. In this chapter I outline the link between the SLR and the empirical research project. I critically consider my philosophical assumptions of the world and examine the implications these assumptions had on the design, method, analysis and validity of the empirical project. Ethical considerations are also explored. Chapter 3: “It’s all about narrowing the gap, isn’t it?” What does practice tell us about how EY professionals can effectively support the early oral language development of multilingual learners? The empirical project explores the perception of EY staff in relation to what supports the development of OL skills and how efficacious they feel to support these in monolingual and multilingual contexts. A two-phase explanatory sequential mixed methods design was utilised and EY staff from across the United Kingdom were invited to take part. Firstly, two questionnaires were used to explore the general and personal efficacy beliefs of EY staff supporting the OL development of multilingual children. Secondly, semi-structured interviews with six participants, with varying degrees of self-reported experience working within multilingual settings were conducted. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and were analysed using inductive reflexive thematic analysis. Successful OL approaches are discussed and characteristics common to both monolingual and multilingual pedagogy are highlighted. Findings relating to staff’s self-efficacy beliefs and what supports these are also discussed. Limitations and implications for practice and further research are considered. This paper is written in the style of the nominated journal: British Journal of Educational Psychology. Chapter 4: Critical synthesis The final chapter provides a critical synthesis of the thesis along with discussion of how the research has influenced my thinking and future practice. Implications for further research and wider practice are also explored.
Description: D. App. Ed. Psy. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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