Educators' use of commanding language to direct infants' behaviour: relationship to educators’ qualifications and implications for language learning opportunities

Jiangbo Hu*, Jane Torr, Sheila Degotardi, Feifei Han

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    9 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    This study investigated the manner in which 56 infant educators used language to direct the behaviour of infants (defined as children aged birth to two years), on the basis that the ways in which educators frame their commands represent an important component of young children’s learning experiences. Underpinned by systemic functional linguistic theory, the study analysed the frequency and
    type of command produced by educators with university, diploma and certificate qualifications. Suggestive and indirect commands convey a sense of negotiation, as if the addressees’ subjective opinions and thoughts are considered, while nonsuggestive and direct commands foreground the speakers’ power and authority. The findings demonstrate that commands feature frequently in
    educators’ talk to infants, with nonsuggestive and direct commands being most commonly used. Individual differences were related to the qualifications of staff. University-qualified early childhood teachers used significantly fewer nonsuggestive and direct commands than did diploma and certificate-qualified educators, and they were more likely to provide infants with a reason for the command. These findings have implications for the way in which learning opportunities are created by the language that educators use, and for the overall quality of infant early childhood programmes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)190-204
    Number of pages15
    JournalEarly Years
    Volume39
    Issue number2
    Early online date25 Aug 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019

    Keywords

    • infants
    • childcare
    • language
    • commands
    • teacher qualifications

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