Young Bilingual Children Learning at Home and at School

Drury, Rosemary Anne. 2004. Young Bilingual Children Learning at Home and at School. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Young Bilingual Children Learning at Home and at School)
thesis_drury_2004.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (8MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the experiences of three four year-old bilingual children as they begin school in three English nursery classes from a language socialisation and socio-cultural perspective.

A review of the literature includes both official documentation on Early Years education and studies of young bilingual children. The former suggests that the experience of children who are learning English as an additional language is not well understood. The latter show that while attention has been given to aspects of second language acquisition, socialisation and the home-school continuum, there is little evidence of the way in which children take control of their own learning in informal settings, or of the way in which children syncretise home and school learning in a socio-cultural context.

Against this background, I present a year long ethnographic study of three Pakistani girls at home and in nursery which provides insights into the way bilingual children learning English as an additional language respond to their learning experiences. Data was gathered through participant observation, audio-recordings in the home and nursery contexts and interviews with parents and nursery teacher. The ethnographic methodology adopted for the study highlights the different perspectives of the nursery staff and the children's parents. The analysis identifies the strategies each child uses in response to her learning situation.

The results reveal some of the ways in which young bilingual children find their way through nursery as they begin to learn the language required for formal schooling. Firstly, the data shows how they respond to the ebb and flow of their ongoing experience at home and at school. It is evident that the key player in the learning process is the child herself. Secondly, much of the learning experienced by the children and analysed in this study is not visible to the nursery teacher. The detailed picture that emerges may help to fill in the over-generalised view of bilingual children to be found in official documents and provide an additional perspective to a growing body of literature on young bilingual children.

The concluding chapters discuss the implications of the study for teachers in multilingual nurseries and for early years policy makers.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


bilingual children, nursery school, Early Years education, Pakistani girls, ethnographic study

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Jun 2020 10:04

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 11:22


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)