The Unity of Cognition and Emotion in Preschool Teachers' Understandings of Language Learning and Language Use
Cichocka, Joanna Franciszka
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My research study investigates how teachers of linguistically diverse young learners understand language learning and language use in the context of their professional and personal experiences. Drawing on the concept of plurilingualism (The Council of Europe, 2001, 2018), language competence is understood as dynamic and context-dependent. Plurilingual language users are viewed as active agents whose linguistic repertoires are unique to their individual biographies and experiences. To explore what five teachers working in linguistically diverse preschool classrooms think, know and believe about language learning and language use, my study employs a dynamic and situated view of teacher cognition (Kubanyiova & Feryok, 2015), which pays particular attention to the specific context of teachers biographies. Additionally, the study recognizes the relationship between teacher cognition and teachers emotional lives. This understanding of language teacher cognition allows me to go beyond descriptive accounts of teachers beliefs and explore their origins. To analyze the collected data, I employed Vygotskys concept of perezhivanie (Vygotsky, 1994), in which the interconnection between emotion and cognition is in the foreground. Findings emerging from this research study suggest that although teachers usually have numerous language learning experiences, their understanding of bilingualism is founded on monolingual assumptions (Cummins, 2001), and, as a result, bilingualism is seen as complete fluency in both languages. Teachers rarely see themselves as successful language learners and language users, and because of that they often feel that inclusion of their students home languages in daily classroom activities is a practice they are not capable of doing. Additionally, my study shows that teachers beliefs regarding language learning and language use are closely intertwined with their personal, and often very intimate, associations and experiences, and these two cannot be analyzed in separation from each other.