1st Edition

Young Children’s Language in Context

    This book explores how young children’s language development is intricately connected to the context in which it takes place. The term ‘context’ not only specifies a geographical location, but also encompasses notions of culture, community and activity. ‘Context’ also refers to discourse features and functions, and to the relationships between the speakers. Every context thus embodies specific practices, intentions and values which privilege particular words, phrases, meanings and communication conventions. 

    Each chapter highlights the dynamic, fluid and multifaceted interplays between language and context to illustrate how context, in every sense, is inextricably intertwined with young children’s language and literacy learning opportunities. The chapters interrogate the topic of ‘Young Children’s Language in Context’ by collectively exploring the multiple ways that context, broadly and variously conceptualised, intersects with language and literacy experiences. Authors examine how contexts shape language and literacy learning opportunities, how children’s language shapes their social-interactive and relationship contexts, and how their language and literacy experiences are, themselves contexts which create socially and culturally endorsed ways to represent ideas, intentions and expectations. This book will be of interest to researchers and advanced students of early childhood education and language development. It was originally published as a special issue in the International Journal of Early Years Education.

    Introduction—Language in context: positioning young children’s language and literacy learning within place, community and culture

    Sheila Degotardi, Shelley Stagg Peterson and Jiangbo Hu

    1. Mapping the literature on parent-child language across activity contexts: a scoping review

    Caitlin Holme, Sam Harding, Sue Roulstone, Patricia J. Lucas and Yvonne Wren

    2. Language expansion in Chinese parent–child mealtime conversations: across different conversational types and initiators

    Ling Sheng, Wenming Dong, Feifei Han, Shiming Tong and Jiangbo Hu

    3. ‘I’m a big boy, you’re a baby’. Negotiating labels, group boundaries and identities in an early childhood community of practice

    Anna Strycharz-Banaś, Carmen Dalli and Miriam Meyerhoff

    4. Language as context: a case of early literacy practices in New Zealand and Sweden

    Amanda Bateman and Asta Cekaite

    5. When and why do early childhood educators reminisce with children about their past experiences?

    Penny Van Bergen and Rebecca Andrews

    6. Infant educators’ use of mental-state talk in Australia and China: a cross-cultural comparative study

    Sheila Degotardi, Feifei Han and Jiangbo Hu

    7. Viewing young children’s drawing, talking, and writing through a ‘language as context’ lens: implications for literacy assessment

    Shelley Stagg Peterson and Nicola Friedrich


    Sheila Degotardi is Professor of early childhood education and the Director of the Centre for Research in Early Childhood Education at Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. Her research specialises in infant-toddler pedagogies, with a focus on language, social interactions and inter-personal relatedness. 

    Shelley Stagg Peterson is Professor of literacy education in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (Canada). Her current project, Northern Oral language and Writing through Play (NOW Play), uses collaborative action research with teachers and early childhood educators to examine ways in which play and experiential learning can support young children’s language and literacy.

    Jiangbo Hu is Professor at Hangzhou College of Child Development and Education, Zhejiang Normal University (China), and an honorary research fellow at Macquarie School of Education, Macquarie University (Australia). Her research focuses on monolingual and bilingual children’s early language experiences across different cultural settings.