Using vignettes to understand the social-emotional experiences of three-year-olds in diverse language contexts

Keywords: Multilingualism, early learning, social-emotional experiences, vignette research


This article reports on the educational experiences of young Afrikaans mother tongue South African children who are exposed to multilingual learning environments during the preschool years. Vignette research provided observational, co-experiential data of the lived experiences of three-year-old boys as they engaged with formal and informal learning. Vignette data that had been collected through observations, written teacher validation and face-to-face interviews, was controlled against existing literature to provide in-depth insights into the participants’ divergent experiences of and within their learning environment. Findings indicate specific areas in which young children may need additional support in multilingual learning environments, in terms of i) social-emotional security experienced in the learning environment; ii) intentional development of empathy for peers, iii) independence and initiative taking in informal settings, and iv) interactive communication. Although the study focused on South African contexts, its findings may inform future interventions to support multilingual language environments in the early years. 


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