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Intercultural communication between two infants in a multicultural early childhood education context in Aotearoa New Zealand

This study explores what intercultural communication could look like in an early childhood education setting in Aotearoa, New Zealand. In particular, it investigates the interactions between two infants that are under 18-months and have different home languages to one another. The research data was gathered using qualitative research methods. The infants’ interactions were observed and video-recorded over a period of 2 weeks. Additional data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with the parents of the infants. This study gathered the experiences of infants and the voices of their families to create an in-depth description of infants’ multimodal experiences of intercultural communication. A Bakhtinian dialogic approach was used to address the subtleties that occurred within the communication between the infants, such as words, gestures, and feelings. The findings of this study indicate that infants are agentic subjects that utilise a number of strategies to initiate, maintain, and end intercultural interactions. Firstly, it was found that infants used joint attention and shared intentionality to understand each other’s intentions and respond appropriately. Secondly, the infants synchronised with each other during playful interactions and communicated through laughter, babble, vocalisations, and imitation. Thirdly, disagreement and uncertainty characterised an unexpected element of intercultural communication-which occurred a as result of having different cultural understandings around different phenomena. Finally, it was found that infants used their cultural experiences at home as a reference in their interactions with each other at the centre. This study implies that educators must critically consider the affordances of early childhood education environments for supporting infant-peer interculturalism. In addition, working with infants in a multicultural ECE setting calls for teachers to recognise, respond to, and validate infants’ various multicultural forms of communication.
Type of thesis
Serhan, Y. (2020). Intercultural communication between two infants in a multicultural early childhood education context in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13430
The University of Waikato
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