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  • 2017briffettaktasphd

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Listening to young learners: applying the Montessori method to English as an Additional Language (EAL) education

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2017
Number of pages204
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


With the current immigration and migration trends in Europe and worldwide, English as an Additional Language (EAL) education is becoming a prominent area of educational research. The discourse around EAL and social justice education has, until now, largely focused on primary, secondary, and post compulsory aged students. Preschool aged EAL children have been left out of the academic discourse. Pedagogical approaches need to be explored to marry EAL and social justice for preschool children. Maria Montessori’s pedagogical approach may be able to achieve this unity without compromising the language development that is desired. The following study is a piece of action research, applying the Montessori Method to a group of nine EAL children in the Canton of Zürich, Switzerland.

The data gathered suggests that applying Montessori’s approach to EAL education, that of listening to the child and being attentive to his\her needs, gives autonomy to the student, and can promote social justice in preschool EAL education. Listening to the child occurs through ‘observation’ (attentiveness to the child), critical reflection of practice, and experimentation in education. In this way each child receives a customized education that has, at its foundation, respect for the child. Using ‘observation,’ field notes, and researcher reflections, it became apparent that young children are able to communicate their educational needs. TESOL outcomes were used to monitor the rate at which English was learned. Each language journey was vastly different, but regardless of the initial outcomes met, all children demonstrated increases in their comprehension and spoken English. It is important to recognize that children must be listened to and should be considered valued members in their education.