|dc.description.abstract||The study describes the language learning environment of
children in senior kindergarten. It focuses firstly, on the
child and the contexts in which s/he uses language in the
classroom, secondly, on the teaching-learning process and
thirdly, on parenting behaviours which contribute to language
An ethnographic field study was carried out in two senior
kindergarten classrooms in one school during the 1986-87
school year. The study was comprised of two phases and
incorporated both quantitative (traditional) and qualitative
(naturalistic) methods of research.
During Phase 1, data were collected from the early
identification developmental checklist and system
speech/language screening for all senior kindergarten children
in the participating school. Classroom observations were made
to gain background information on the students in each class,
instructional methods, and setting. A theoretical/purposive
sampling of six children was selected for the more in-depth
Phase 2 data were collected through classroom
observations of the individual children, analysis of documents
and interviews with the children, their parents, the teacher and others. A profile was compiled on each child to
illuminate the child's language development.
Findings suggest some commonality to the parenting that
either enables or disables the development of speech and
language centring on variety of experiences, family stability
and television viewing habits.
There were indications that a more traditional curriculum
in the kindergarten with elements of both the "academic" and
the "child-centred" philosophies with some emphasis on
"readiness" and "skill development" but at the same time
adaptation of the curriculum and teaching techniques to
accommodate individual differences assists in language
development. Modelling and reinforcement and the frequent use
of nursery rhymes and productive thinking skills were among
the most effective means.
In preparation for further learning, structure, routines
and rules provide the security for the children to take risks.
Provision of many opportunities for active involvement in
meaningful language learning situations and a balance of skill
development with open-ended activities provide the opportunity
for creativity and varying levels of difficulty. An overemphasis
on worksheets, however, may be counter-productive.
A well-organized parent volunteer program in the
kindergarten contributes greatly to both the comfort level in the classroom and the development of a cooperative community
atmosphere throughout the school.
It appears that early identification procedures in the
kindergarten are not entirely effective in identifying the
children at-risk due to language delay. There are indications
that administrators and teachers should examine assessment and
programming practices with an eye to providing the information
and resources necessary to implement differentiated curriculum
to address the varying degrees of language development of