A qualitative inquiry of professionals’ perceptions of bilingualism for children with language delay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to understand the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of early childhood health and education professionals on bilingualism and heritage language maintenance for children with language delay, and how their interactions with caregivers may influence the decision-making process to maintain or not maintain speaking heritage languages with children. Method: A qualitative methodology was used to explore the research aims. Seven early childhood health and education professionals with experience working with bilingual families participated in in-depth interviews. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach and a symbolic interactionism theoretical framework. Result: Understandings of bilingualism and language development were strongly influenced by socially and culturally contextualised factors, such as the linguistic context in Australia. Barriers and facilitators to supporting bilingualism and helping caregivers make informed choices included: unique child and family characteristics, the level of trust in professional advice, and the level of professional agency to support knowledge and practice. Conclusion: Findings highlighted the need to focus on the processes involved in supporting caregivers to make informed decisions about bilingualism and heritage language maintenance for children with language delay. The need for professional development on bilingualism and language development for early childhood health and education professionals was also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-507
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Volume23
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • bilingual
  • language delay
  • professional perceptions

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