Students aged 3-6 years with special educational needs working in second language environments: exploring the transferability of pedagogical approaches from England to Taiwan

  • Wen-Yen Chen

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study aims to compare pedagogical strategies adopted in Taiwan and England for children aged 3-6 years using languages additional to their home languages, some of whom have a diagnosis of special educational needs and disability (SEND), in order to identify any pedagogical strategies used in English early childhood settings that might also be employed usefully in Taiwanese early childhood settings. In its action research cycle, the study goes on to investigate the potential for transferability of such strategies from early childhood settings in England to early childhood settings in Taiwan. A study focused on issues concerning the experiences of ‘New-inhabitants’ is new in Taiwan, since this demographic has emerged and increased significantly in the past twenty years. ‘New-inhabitant’ children in Taiwan tend to be more likely than their peers to have a diagnosis of Special Educational Needs, which may be attributable to the high percentage of their fathers with physical disabilities or intellectual impairments. Equally, many of their mothers are from countries other than Taiwan and their first language is not Chinese so that these children tend to present with language and communication delay in Chinese. Taiwanese early childhood teachers have reported that they find it difficult to teach ‘New-inhabitant’ children and an emerging issue has been the increasing need for teachers in Taiwan to adapt their traditional teaching methods to make early education in Taiwan accessible to ‘New-inhabitant’ children. Conversely, teachers in England have been teaching children with English as Additional Language (EAL) and Special Educational Needs (SEN) for many years so pedagogic practice in these areas is relatively well established in England. This action research study has been an opportunity to compare pedagogic strategies employed by teachers in both England and Taiwan and to investigate if – and how - strategies from English settings might be transferable to Taiwanese settings. In the study, the methods included semi-structured interviews with teachers and observations of pedagogic practice in early years settings; observation data comprised photographs, videos and field notes, while interviews elicited teachers’ voices, revealing information as well as their thinking and beliefs. In the interviews, teachers discussed the learning environments and activities they had created, specific strategies for children with EAL or SEN, and shared their opinions about cooperation with schools and Local Authorities. Findings reveal similarities and differences in the pedagogic strategies employed by teachers in early childhood settings in England and Taiwan. They indicate that it was possible to transfer some pedagogic strategies from English settings to Taiwanese settings supporting children with Special Educational Needs and Chinese as an Additional Language. However, the study found this transferability to be limited and strongly affected by the need to adapt resources to make them culturally appropriate for the children in Taiwan. The findings provide insights into the real world practices of early childhood teachers in England and Taiwan, enabling other teachers to learn from their work so that they might use these experiences to inform their early childhood provision.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorRichard Rose (Supervisor)

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