A teacher's use of play to promote literacy learning in a prekindergarten classroom serving children from diverse language backgrounds
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This study looked at both a teacher’s beliefs about the role of play and that teacher’s use of play in literacy learning serving children from diverse language backgrounds. Although several researchers have explored children’s literacy development in a play context, there is little research on this topic for children from diverse language backgrounds. In order to explore the role of play in literacy learning for children from diverse language backgrounds, I used a qualitative research approach to collect data from interviews, informal conversations, observations, and self-reflexive notes. In this study, the teacher believed play could be an ideal medium for ESL children who did not speak English fluently. Play gave them a relaxed and comfortable environment to practice a new language, English, without worrying about making mistakes. She understood play as a “concrete,” “hands-on,” “fun,” and “manipulative” activity that provides a relaxed and comfortable environment, becomes a good medium for integrated lessons, and gives a natural connection between the home language and English. She used play for a warm-up, games or tricks, integrated lessons, assessment, acting out characters, dramatic play, and block play in literacy learning for children from diverse language backgrounds. This study revealed that when a teacher believes that play takes an important role in children’s learning and development, she uses playful activities as potential teaching and learning mediums for ESL children’s literacy learning and development. In addition, the result supported that each teacher may have a unique understanding or practical notion of play in literacy learning, and it may strongly affect his/her classroom practices.