London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Dispositions towards language/s in early years practice in England

Author(s) Rojas-Bustos, K.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2013  
Editor P. Cunningham (ed.) Identities and Citizenship Education: Controversy, crisis and challenges  
Age group -  
Every Child a Talker (ECaT) was one of the many initiatives implemented by the Labour government to increase the quality of early years services in England. ECaT was designed to ‘strengthen children’s early language development by improving the quality of language provision in the early years settings’ (DfCSF, 2008b). This paper analyses the position that ‘other languages’ were given in this initiative. ECaT was interpreted as a market in which its members were engaged in institutionalised activities to produce, reproduce, exchange and accumulate valued capital (Bourdieu, 1977, 1991). Critical Discourse Analysis (mainly inspired by Fairclough, 2010, 2009) was applied to unveil discourses about language/s. The conclusions indicated that in the discourses generated in the official documents, for instance, ideologies about quality-language-provision, ‘other languages’ were slightly included and, at the same time, extensively excluded. An example of this is that success was only considered to be achieved when children were able to perform in English to a certain level. There was no indication of how children who were learning more than one language could meet the standards for success. The analysis also indicates that the market promoted very few exchanges in which ‘other languages’ were valued capital. This research demonstrates that there is a pervasive process of legitimation of one language among many others and exposes contradictory discourses about inclusiveness and multicultural practices in the early years sector. Keywords: early years, language learning, English as an additional language, multicultural matters, inclusive practice, Theory of Practice, Pierre Bourdieu.

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