Early years immersion: learning from children's playroom experiences

Christine Stephen, Joanna McPake, Irene Pollock, Wilson McLeod

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This paper considers the pedagogic challenges encountered in preschool settings which strive to provide high quality learning experiences across the curriculum for three- to five-year olds while also immersing them in a second language. In our effort to develop an empirically and theoretically informed foundation for the development of pedagogic practices in Gaelic-medium preschools in Scotland, we draw on literature from early years education and from early total immersion, particularly in relation to language revitalisation initiatives, and report the findings from our study of the everyday experiences of young learners in three Gaelic-medium playrooms. The paper concludes with a discussion of the challenges for early years practitioners charged with meeting the goals of both the early years curriculum and early language immersion. It proposes theoretical foundations from which a specific pedagogy and professional practice model for preschool immersion education can be developed, to ensure that these goals are integrated rather than in tension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-85
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • preschool immersion education
  • preschool pedagogy
  • early total immersion
  • young children
  • language revitalisation
  • Scottish Gaelic


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