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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Views of young second language learners on building relationships with peers in an English classroom setting El-Khater, Leyla


School communities are becoming more diverse in many countries around the world and are including children who are learning in a language that is not their first (2LL). Little is known about the experiences young 2LLs have when they enter early childhood settings for the first time. The aim of this study was to investigate in what ways being a 2LL may impact peer relationships according to the views of young children who learned or are learning English as a second language. The participants of this study were five children, ages 5-8, from an Arabic community near a large urban center in western Canada. The children‟s parents responded to an advertisement on an Islamic school‟s communication board. Data collection included two individual interviews held in each child‟s home and one group interview carried out at the children‟s school. All interviews involved a persona doll and were audio recorded and transcribed. The interview data were analyzed for reoccurring themes throughout the children‟s responses. The findings were organized under the headings: the children‟s feelings on their first day of school, the children‟s thoughts on the persona doll‟s (a 2LL) feelings on her first day of school, and the children‟s suggestions to help the doll learn English and socialize in the classroom. Overall, this study indicates that young children point to support from bilingual peers and/or teachers as valuable for the second language learner‟s acquisition of the new language. In addition, results of this study support previous research that has explored effective strategies for teaching young 2LLs.

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