Language variation in teacher speech in a dual immersion preschool
Keywords:language input, language variation, early childhood, teacher speech, dual immersion, heritage language
AbstractThis study investigates the language input provided for English-Mandarin emergent bilingual children in a California English-Mandarin dual immersion preschool. As illustrated in previous studies, teacher speech in foreign language classrooms often serves as the native standard of the target language, thus necessarily limiting students’ exposure to stylistic variation. The current research focused on the language input for emergent bilingual preschoolers who were Chinese heritage language learners and the use of sociolinguistic variables, including Mandarin lexical tones and word-initial sibilants, by their teachers. Results show that although the teachers perceived their classroom roles differently, they tried to provide clear and rich Mandarin input with tonal and sibilant variables that were used in consistent patterns. Except for the constraints of the linguistic environment, standard variables were preferred in classroom discourse. This implies that the particular needs of the English-dominant children to acquire Mandarin have been acknowledged and addressed by teachers. This type of modification in language input may affect children’s development of phonetic categories and their sociolinguistic competence.
Published by the LSA with permission of the author(s) under a CC BY 4.0 license.