Understanding Educator Perspectives of French Language Instruction in Play-Based Kindergarten

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Seiveright, Gregory
Kindergarten , French Immersion , Play-Based Learning , Additional Language Acquisition
This study examined issues related to additional language acquisition in French Immersion play-based kindergarten contexts, from the perspective of educators. Little is currently known about the impacts of play-based kindergarten on children in French Immersion programs in Ontario; the Kindergarten Curriculum does not address specific considerations with regards to Immersion students. The overarching research question for the study (RQ1) asks: How do play-based kindergarten programs impact student acquisition of French language skills, as perceived by French Immersion educators? Two additional sub-questions, (RQ2 and RQ3), guide this study. RQ2 asks: How do French Immersion kindergarten teachers and ECEs plan for and deliver meaningful French language instruction within a play-based setting? RQ3 asks: Which specific French language outcomes do educators expect kindergarten children to have achieved by the end of kindergarten? This study followed a basic qualitative design, using an online qualitative questionnaire to collect data. Participants included a purposeful sample of French Immersion kindergarten teachers (10) and early childhood educators (3) from one board in eastern Ontario. General inductive analysis was used to analyse responses. Findings indicate that educators are purposeful and intentional in teaching the French language, and there is a fine balance between direct instruction and play-based learning. A wide variety of approaches to play-based learning and additional language acquisition were described by participants, suggesting a need for consistent, clear expectations for educators. Ongoing professional learning for educators is needed. Future research is recommended to study an ideal entry point for early immersion programs.
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