Breaking Language Barriers : Teachers’ Strategies for Supporting Immigrant Children with Limited Language Proficiency
Andrés Bolado, Lidia (2023)
Andrés Bolado, Lidia
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In the multilingual world of today, many children from immigrant backgrounds are growing up learning multiple languages at once. However, for some, this can lead to linguistic challenges that affect their development. The increasing number of immigrant children in Finland makes it vital to increase awareness of language acquisition and support strategies among professionals in the field of education. This study explored how teachers in the early years and primary education in Finland comprehend and support immigrant children with language barriers, with a particular focus on their limited proficiency in their native languages. Data was collected from 10 participants working in kindergartens and schools in Finland through interviews, which were analyzed using thematic analysis. A phenomenological approach was used to interpret the subjective experiences of the teachers and understand to their methods. The study found that children with limited language skills faced communication barriers that affected their socialization, while teachers emphasized the importance of addressing these challenges and promoting strategies to improve children’s language and social skills. The study identified three interconnected themes: social, personal, and academic, with each theme having sub-themes related to language difficulties and teacher strategies. A holistic approach was needed to address language problems, considering social, personal, and academic situations. Scaffolding and the Cummins Model can help develop appropriate tasks for these children. Teachers should plan and set goals while considering children's abilities and needs. Cooperation is essential for effective support. The study suggests that in order to better support the educational outcomes of these children, significant changes need to be made in the Finnish education system, which would require additional resources for language education and professional development.
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