Exploring Preschool Teachers' Perspectives on Linguistic Diversity: A Q Study

July, 2017

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 65 (2017) 157-170
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aims to examine preschool teachers' beliefs about linguistic diversity using a Q methodology.

The participants were twenty-one preschool teachers in California. The majority of participants were female. They worked at childcare centers, parent cooperative preschools, church preschools, Head Start programs, and private preschools.

The authors used Q methodology as a mixed-methods exploration of perspectives. Q methodology involves statistical analyses typically used in quantitative studies. However, its goal is to describe subjective
perspectivesd which is more characteristic of qualitative work. The participants are asked to read a series of statements, then sort them by placing them on a normal
distribution, with the statement they feel is most like them at one end, and the statement they feel is most unlike them at the other.
Data were collected through a survey, interviews, focus groups, and media.

The authors found that four perspectives emerged from the analysis: Aesthetic Caregivers, Bilingualism Advocates, Diversity Accommodators , and English Acquisition Supporter.
 Aesthetic Caregivers highlighted the importance of negotiating differences and similarities among students and rejected linguistic assimilation.
Bilingualism Advocates supported on using bilingualism. They focused specifically on English learners' families and communities.
Diversity Accommodators argued that there should be a linguistic diversity. They emphasized the need for teachers to accommodate English learners by adjusting their teaching methods to suit individual needs.
Finally, the English Acquisition Supporter also endorsed linguistic diversity both generally and in the classroom. However, they prioritized English language acquisition as the steppingstone to successful integration into American culture and schooling.
The findings reveal that these teachers were highly supportive of linguistic diversity and multilingual practices.

The authors argue that these teachers' perspectives provide alternative ways to conceptualize linguistic diversity and their role in English learners ' educational experiences.

The findings indicate that the participants saw opportunity rather than difficulty: they believed that interacting with diverse classmates gives young children the chance to develop tolerance, cooperation, and multicultural awareness.

Updated: Oct. 21, 2018