iPad apps and promoting English language and vocabulary

Year: 2021


Type of paper: Individual Paper

Abstract Learning English as an additional language is a common journey in multicultural countries. Language learning is a social and cultural practice that involves communicating concepts, actions, feelings, and ideas. Play in early childhood education settings is often social, involving exploration, problem-solving, creativity, and of course communication, it is an ideal context for all language development.Vocabulary development is a fundamental aspect of language learning. Young children learn vocabulary skills through everyday interactions and play. It is important that exposure to English vocabulary occurs frequently and consistently, in educational and home settings. Child-centred, play-based early years education involves conversations that foster rich and meaningful vocabulary development. For young children learning English as an additional language, this embodied, social way of learning language can foster not only vocabulary in their new language, but also their confidence as English speakers. Children’s play increasingly involves digital media as part of their daily life. Apps designed for young children can attract and sustain their attention through their dynamic and colourful graphics, animations, sounds, and interactive capabilities. iPad apps can stimulate conversation among children, which is important for children learning English as an additional language.This study explored how iPad app can support young children in learning English as an additional language. This  case study focused on one classroom of multicultural and multilingual children in one early childhood centre. Aside from observing the children while they were engaged in the educational app, their teacher was interviewed to get her perception of the use of the iPad app for supporting English learners. This study was guided by the theoretical framework inspired by Vygotsky on sociocultural learning.  This study found that the selected iPad app is likely to promote four and five-year-old children’s English language learning, including their English vocabulary development. During the iPad sessions, the children were excited to engage with the app and share their relevant life experiences with their peers and the teacher. In this classroom, the teacher did not believe in the importance of iPad apps to encourage EAL/D children’s language learning and multimodal meaning making. Which suggests that targeted professional development could be instrumental in promoting early childhood educators’ about how the use of iPad apps can foster children’s English language development with iPad apps.