Translanguaging practices in infant rooms: case studies of Chinese-Australian bilingual infant-educator interactions

Fiona Zheng*, Sheila Degotardi, Emilia Djonov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many bilingual infants attend early childhood education centres (ECEC) with their monolingual peers. However, recent evidence reveals that bilingual infants vocalise significantly less than monolingual infants in ECEC settings (Zheng et al. 2023) [Effects of Multilingualism on Australian Infants' Language Environments in Early Childhood Education Centers. Infant Behavior and Development, 70, 101799.], suggesting that educators may need to provide language tailored strategies to support bilingual infants' language learning. This study examines how educators support Mandarin-English bilingual infants' learning and development through a range of translanguaging practices in Australian ECEC contexts. We identified three functions of fluid translanguaging pedagogies: (1) make meaning and acknowledge children's bilingual repertoires during play-based interactions; (2) introduce the connections between two languages during literacy and play activities; (3) provide emotional support or regulate behaviour through the use of home language. We also identified educators' language-supporting strategies such as repetition, expanding their own/child's utterances, labelling and questioning during translanguaging practices. This study is the first to closely describe the dynamic nature of translanguaging interactions between early childhood educators and Mandarin-English bilingual children under the age of two. Findings highlight the importance of translanguaging for scaffolding infants' bilingual language learning, fostering their bilingual identities and supporting their wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Australia
  • early childhood education
  • infant-educator interactions
  • language environment
  • Mandarin-English bilingual infants
  • translanguaging

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