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Title: The perceptions of teachers, parents and young children on factors that affect EAL learning at an infant school in the South of England
Author: Ruzane, Grace Chiratidzo
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 3207
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2013
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With an ever increasing number of ethnic minority children enrolling into British schools it is necessary to establish the factors that affect them in their learning of English as a second or additional language (EAL). This qualitative study was aimed at investigating the perceptions of teachers, parents and young children on factors that affect EAL learning at an infant school in the south of England. The participants in the study were 30 children, 8 teachers and 25 parents. The sample of children was drawn from a sampling frame of the 270 children at the school. The majority of the children in the study population come from non-English speaking backgrounds where one or both parents have limited English. Data for the study was collected through focus group interviews, personal interviews and observation. The thematic data analysis procedure which followed Gee’s (2005) recommendations to examine only one piece of data at a time uncovered emerging themes such as factors perceived by children, teachers and parents to affect young children’s EAL learning, teachers’ perceptions of the role played by parents in their children’s learning and the problems faced by parents in supporting their children’s learning. The results of the study showed that the learning of EAL is embedded in a complex network of factors that include linguistic factors such as linguistic distance between L1 and L2, home background factors such as parental support and availability of literacy resources, cultural factors and support from peers and other adults such as teachers and bilingual support assistants. It was evident from the study that while teachers considered the parents to be uninterested in supporting their children’s learning, the parents revealed that they were eager to help their children but did not know how to do it as they felt they did not possess the language, knowledge or skills to perform the expected role effectively. It is therefore important to find out about participants’ perceptions on phenomena that affect them as this highlights their views, beliefs and opinions as well as the nature of problems they encounter, from their own point of view. Since children’s EAL learning is affected by numerous factors it is imperative for further research to be done with younger children to establish in greater detail how these factors affect their acquisition of EAL and how language difficulties and other problems encountered by both parents and children can be rectified. While bilingual assistants have been shown to be indispensable in supporting young EAL learners by interpreting for them, supporting them in speaking, reading and other activities it has been sadly observed that their roles and responsibilities are under-researched. This, therefore, calls for more research into their roles and responsibilities as well as the training they need to perform their roles efficiently.
Supervisor: Svalberg, Agneta Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available