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- PublicationHow deep is your immersion? Policy and practice in Welsh-medium preschools with children from different language backgroundsA challenge noted in a number of endangered language contexts is the need to mix second-language (L2) learners of the target language with first-language (L1) speakers of that language in a less planned way than is found in the two-way immersion approach. Such mixing of L1 speakers of the target language with L2 learners arises from the difficulty of making separate provision for the dwindling L1 minority. The issue of how to manage the range of language proficiency in such mixed groups is relevant to a number of language contexts. This paper explores data gathered in Wales from educators in Welsh-medium preschool nursery groups (cylchoedd meithrin). Particular attention is given to issues relating to the grouping of Welsh L1 and L2 children and to policies and practices pertaining to the teaching and learning of Welsh in these groups. Survey data were collected from 162 cylchoedd Leaders in areas where such mixing of L1 speakers and L2 learners regularly occurs. The Leaders’ skills, attitudes and approaches to developing the language of the children in such mixed groups are examined, as well as the issues of differentiated input and pedagogical adaptation to address those needs, in an exploration of how policy and practice can diverge in dealing with this challenge. The study aims to develop a fuller understanding of the needs of these early immersion Leaders, in order to support them and maximise their effectiveness, by recognising that they are striving, not only to promote language maintenance/enrichment in L1 minority language speakers and L2 acquisition among L2 learners, but also to provide high-quality early years’ education.
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