Infant–toddler educators’ language support practices during snack-time

Sheila Degotardi
Jane Torr
Nga Thanh Nguyen
Macquarie University

This study investigates the quantity and quality of infant–toddler educators’ language-support practices during morning or afternoon snack-time short episodes. Infants’ participation in, and the quality of their interactions with adults plays a critical role in their language development. However, while mealtimes with older children have been identified as providing rich opportunities for language development, research suggests that infant educators may overlook the pedagogical significance of this context.

The participants comprised 26 focus educators whose video-recorded snack-time interactions were extracted from a three-hour observation of their normal duties with the children. The recording and associated transcript of focus educator talk was analysed to determine measures of language-promoting talk characteristics and teaching strategies. Overall results illustrate that educators’ language-promoting practices were limited in their potential to promote language development. Individual differences were positively related to qualification level, and to whether or not the educator predominantly sat with the children, and were negatively related to infant–educator ratios. Findings suggest the need for an increased focus on educators’ pedagogical knowledge and skills related to supporting language development with these very young children.


Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 41 Number 4 December 2016.

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