Strategies in Working with Children Learning English as a Second Language

Maire Mhic Mhathuna, Dublin Institute of Technology
Una Hill, Bonnybrook Day Nursery

Document Type Conference Paper

Vision into Practice. Proceedings of International Conference 2007, Dublin Castle. S. O'Brien, P. Cassidy and H. Schonfeld, Eds. Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, now at .


This paper describes a study carried out in four early years’ centres in Dublin in 2007 with practitioners who were working with children learning English as an additional language. The aim of the study was to investigate the views and experiences of practitioners on a number of aspects of this work. Interviews were conducted with the practitioners regarding their views on the social and linguistic factors affecting the children, their understanding of the process of second language leaning, the strategies they used to assist second language learning, their classroom organisation, their contact with parents and the challenges and issues that they faced. The findings indicate that staff were drawing on and extending their existing interaction skills in working with second language children, that they were sensitive to the cultural differences they encountered and that they had formed close bonds with the newcomer families. The main difficulties they had were in relation to finding out about cultural practices and in accessing help for newcomer children with developmental or language problems. Access to translators for communication with parents was also a difficulty. Overall, the practitioners were extremely positive about their experiences of working with second language children and regarded their inclusion as an opportunity to learn about other cultures and languages.