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INTERNATIONALE AKADEMIE an der Freien Universität Berlin Children Crossing Borders Research Project Language and Policies Shaping the Voices of Parents.

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Presentation on theme: "INTERNATIONALE AKADEMIE an der Freien Universität Berlin Children Crossing Borders Research Project Language and Policies Shaping the Voices of Parents."— Presentation transcript:

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2 INTERNATIONALE AKADEMIE an der Freien Universität Berlin Children Crossing Borders Research Project Language and Policies Shaping the Voices of Parents and Professionals in Preschool Settings: An experience from Germany Henriette Heimgaertner Institute for Contextual Child Development (ISTA)

3 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 The Context: Policies 16 federal states have statutory responsibility for educational policies all states issue new curricula for early childhood education most programmes stress special language support for children with a migration background

4 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 The Context: Policies – : joint decision of Standing Committee for youth and education “ language support to be embedded in personal relationships with and meaningful activities for children” creation of observation and mesurement instruments for language development

5 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 The Context: Practice language tests are divorced from children’s every day experience often done by outsiders not familiar with children focus on grammar and vocabulary and not communication skills

6 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 The Context: Practice –2- need for special support is acknowledged, but no additional staff resources in child care centres in-service training insufficient as educators have very little experience with multi-linguacy of children diverse needs of children depending on their home language

7 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Observations policies about language support are about learning the dominant language school readiness defined in terms of knowing the dominant language poor language skills seen as singular cause for poor school success multi-linguacy not seen as an asset

8 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Explorative Questions How are these policies and practices mirrored by migrant parents and educators? What are the differences/commonalities between parents and educators? What is the reality? How do children deal with language?

9 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Language & School: migrant parents‘ voices –1- Int: what do you wish your child should learn here in the kindergarten? Aishe: First, of course the German language. How they handle it here, I find it good that children are reminded, if they talk in their mother tongue, that they don‘t use their mother tongue, but they should speak German. That is very good. Nürgün: With my son it is okay, he learns German well and he counts from one to ten; he has what I wish, and I like it. (DBKH pa, as )

10 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Language & School: migrant parents‘ voices –2- Int: But ideally,.. would you prefer to have more educators.. that speak Russian, or is it on the contrary important for you that the children speak German? Katya: It‘s important. Olga: of course, very (nodding) Katya: Because at home we don‘t speak German with her and she must learn the language, so when she goes to school she will not fall behind. And how it is now, it is good that the educators are German. (DBM pa, nw 17 – 20)

11 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Language & School: migrant parents‘ voices –3- Int: And what do you wish for? How language is dealt with in the kita? Translator for Turkish mother: She would like/ she wishes that in the kita the German language would be taught more. Because she thinks there are such different children here, Arabic, Turkish speakers and she would like for the children here to also/ for the teachers to also teach that more here, that the children speak German and set up programs accordingly for the children. (DBKH pa, aj )

12 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Parents‘ perspectives on language learning German is the key expectation of parents; discussed in relation of preparing children for school and school success kindergarten is expected to provide support for learning German – it is one of the main criteria for choice of institution family language is important to parents – but it is the task of the family no preference for mother tongue teachers at kindergarten

13 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Language & School: professionals‘ voices –1- Erica: Unfortunately that‘s just how it is, they have to learn the language. I think it‘s stupid to always say „you‘re going to school soon, you know“ because I think it‘s stupid when we always say here, „yeah, kita is just as important“ then to always bring up school. Eva : Yes, I find it correct, if you live in one country, one needs to speak as they speak there….. If one wants to live here, then one must speak German. (FBM ed, ajcp 71)

14 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Language & School: Professionals‘ voices –2- Int: What would you.. wish for the children now as far as language goes? Anke: A healthy native language. ((Serap ((starting to smile in agreement)): Yes, exactly)) A good.. a healthy native language that you can build on. I think, where the little beginnings, where it’s really discussed with the children, that you certain/ only has to be one thing a day/ for example sitting down together at the dinner table or something like that, that it’s done together and where [children] experience the language. I think this is a beginning. Anja: I think that the children ought to come much sooner to the Kita ((Sabine: Yeah, good, I did, too)), I mean, then you can start there. Where you really say they go to Kita at two years old. Because children learn fast, that is/ that would actually be a point where you can start. (DBKH ed, aj )

15 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Educators‘ perspectives on language children should learn German in the kindergarten: some say: as early as possible pressure on educators to teach and on children to learn the language children need good („healthy“) knowledge of family language teaching family language is a task of the parents pressure on parents to teach family language

16 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Strategies of Children –1- Anne :..I have to honestly say.. that even during free play, they.. spent the whole day together and really, I then observed this more during an extended period of time, all day long they spoke Russian with each other, did not speak one syllable of German, really. And then I did eventually say: „You know, you all sooner or later you have to converse in German here, not here in the kindergarten but where you live. And quite a few of you can already do it very well, they can help the others“ (EBKF ed, as 58)

17 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Strategies of Children –2- Anne: Yeah, we have quite a few children, they conversed with great effort with each other in German, until through a really dumb coincidence they find out they speak the same mother tongue and since then they talk like that if its‘s at all possible to only speak Russian with each other That was quite a big group, too. Int: And how do you all then deal with it? Vanessa: You know, we remind them about it, ya know. Sabine: Yeah, to a certain extent we do. (EBKF ed, as 53 – 56)

18 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Strategies of Children –3- Int: One moment, please, I believe you (Elenka) still wanted to say something… Elenka: Yeah, yeah. Whenever the children play outside, I’ve already heard many times, uh the children from Russia, for example, when they play together with each other, the children speak only in Russian. Int: Ah, yes. Elenka: Spontaneously in Russian. And then a German child comes, yes, the children can already speak with him in German. Int: So they switch then. Elenka: Yes ( ). Int: And what do you think of that? Elenka: Yeah, well I think it’s nice. (DJK pa, pwas, )

19 Henriette Heimgaertner EECERA Prague 2007 Children‘s Strategies: observations language used as a tool of exclusion or inclusion children of same language groups play together using home language children switch language when others join children transform the mono-lingual kindergarten into a multi-lingual environment educators allow for family language being spoken in the kindergarten educators: shift from not valuing the cultural background of children


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