Bilingual teaching assistants and learning in early years settings.

Drury, Rose and Robertson, Leena Helavaara ORCID: (2007) Bilingual teaching assistants and learning in early years settings. In: 17th EECERA Annual Conference on "Exploring Vygotsky’s ideas: crossing borders", 29 Aug - 01 Sep 2007, Prague, Czech Republic. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Today in the UK bilingual teaching assistants (BTAs) play a key role in supporting bilingual children’s
learning in schools and early years settings. BTAs (otherwise known as Bilingual Classroom Assistants)
were referred to in the Swann Report (1985) as a ‘bilingual resource’ to ‘help with the transitional needs of
non-English speaking children starting school’ (DES, 1985: 407). BTAs are paid hourly to support bilingual
children at an early stage in their learning of English by using the child’s home language to assist their
learning. Bilingual assistants also have an important role in helping mediate continuity between the
cultural and linguistic expectations of home and school. These assistants normally work in the classroom
under the direction of the class teacher and may have a different view of early years education.
By drawing on data from two ethnographic research studies in multiethnic early years settings the paper
aims to uncover some of the tensions in current mainstream practice for bilingual children. It also challenges
the dominating discourses regarding early years pedagogy. By drawing on neo-Vygostkyan theories of
learning (for example Moll, 1992; Ochs, 1998; Rogoff, 2003) the paper explores the ways in which bilingual
assistants act as cultural and linguistic mediators of bilingual children’s learning. The paper suggests the
need for further work and research which can lead to new insights about early bilingualism and a deeper
understanding of the bilingual adult’s role in supporting young children’s learning. Ultimately it may help
us contribute to constructing a new and meaningful curriculum for bilingual children.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Education
A. > Centre for Education Research and Scholarship (CERS)
Item ID: 6648
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2010 05:36
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:21

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