Educational language practices and language development in Early Childhood Education and Care
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- PhD theses (HF-IBU) 
Original versionEducational language practices and language development in Early Childhood Education and Care by Joakim Evensen Hansen, Stavanger : University of Stavanger, 2018 (PhD thesis UiS, no. 429)
The overarching aim of the study is to examine staff educational language practices with children under 3 years in high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC), and associations between ECEC quality and language development. The main research question is: What characterises educational language practices in Norwegian ECEC measured to high quality, and what are the associations between quality of the language-learning environment and vocabulary development? This question is explored to get a more comprehensive understanding of how to support early language development in ECEC. The theoretical framework builds on sociocultural perspectives on learning and social pragmatic perspectives on language development. This approach implies an understanding that adult–child interactions drive child development and contextual aspects (e.g., culture, tradition, and languages) are influential. Research on educational language practices and language development with children in ECEC under 3 is scarce (Dickinson, 2011; Melhuish et al., 2015). In a Norwegian and Nordic context, there are studies on staff–child and peer-to-peer interactions; however, few focus on educational aspects related to children’s learning processes (Bjørnestad, Pramling Samuelsson, & Bae, 2012). The aim of this study is to address the research gap using a multimethod approach focusing on 1) how preschool teachers describe planning, implementing, and assessing work on language; 2) staff–child verbal interactions across different situations; and 3) the associations between quality of language-learning environment and vocabulary development. Overall, this study contributes with three main findings. First, educational language practices with children under 3 in high-quality Norwegian ECEC are characterised by a child-centred holistic approach that provides a rich and meaningful language-learning environment (Article 1 and Article 2). Second, educational language practices in high quality ECEC with children under 3 years are characterised by the use of diverse and situated strategies for supporting language learning (Article 1 and Article 2). Third, language-learning environments for children under 3 characterised by staff being responsive to children, extending children’s communication, and facilitating conversations with children are related to vocabulary growth from 3 to 5 years (Article 3). Based on the findings, three topics are addressed in the discussion section. First, characteristics and possible challenges of child-centred educational language practices are discussed. The main strategy of providing rich and varied vocabulary is seen in relation to the childcentred approach. Second, contextual aspects influencing educational language practices are discussed. Characteristics of practices during free play, mealtime and circle time are discussed in relation to supporting language learning in an ECEC context. Third, aspects of the language learning environment, and the measures used, are discussed in relation to early language development. In total, these findings contribute to the discussion of how to develop high-quality ECEC for children under 3. This study shows the complexity of the subject and the need for highly skilled staff working with children under 3. This study adds to the research highlighting the importance of providing a high-quality language-learning environment in children’s early years.
Has partsPaper 1: Hansen, J. E., & Alvestad, M. (2017). Educational language practices described by preschool teachers in Norwegian kindergartens. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 26(1), 128–141. doi:10.1080/1350293X.2018.1412052. This paper is not in Brage for copyright reasons.
Paper 2: Hansen, J.E. (accepted) Language learning environment and educational language practices in groups of children aged between one and three in Norwegian ECC. International Journal of Early Years Education.
Paper 3: Hansen, J. E., & Broekhuizen, M. L. (submitted). ECEC quality and vocabulary development in Norwegian ECEC. This paper is not in Brage for copyright reasons.
PublisherStavanger, University of Stavanger
SeriesPhD thesis UiS;