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EDCR102 The Languages of Children

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An exploration of the meaning-making experiences of very young children as they begin to communicate with the world and those around them.

This paper begins from the words of Loris Malaguzzi (1996):

The child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred ways of listening, of marvelling of loving, a hundred joys, for singing and understanding.
A hundred worlds to discover
A hundred worlds to invent
A hundred worlds to dream.
The child has a hundred languages (and a hundred hundred hundred more)...

This paper explores the meaning-making experiences of the very young child as they begin to communicate with the world and those around them, including both adults and other children.

Paper title The Languages of Children
Paper code EDCR102
Subject Education
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 2 (On campus)
Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $887.55
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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EDCR 101
Limited to
Early Childhood Education students only.

Dr Sonya Gaches,

Teaching staff

Paper Co-ordinator: Dr Sonya Gaches
Teaching Staff, Southland Campus: Mary O'Rourke
Teaching Staff, Dunedin: To be confirmed

Paper Structure
  • Cultural constructions and representation of language
  • Cultural icons and meaning-making for children in the early years
  • Language acquisition - current understandings:
    • Theories and research
    • Second language learning
  • Application and critical review of theories of language acquisition
  • Multiple means of communication in the early years:
    • Expressive media: art, drama, dance, music
  • Literacy practices and theories in the early years
  • Socio-cultural perspectives:
    • Early literacy and graphicacy
  • Pedagogy practices, assessment and evaluation in promoting successful communication and meaning making
  • Implications for Aotearoa/New Zealand:
    • Introduction to social te reo Māori
    • Introduction to NZ Sign Language

Required Texts:

Clark, B., Grey, A & Terreni, L. (2013) Kia Tipu te Wairua Toi - Fostering the Creative Spirit, Auckland: Pearson.

Hamer, J. & Adams, P. (2006). The New Zealand early childhood literacy handbook. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press Ltd.

New Zealand Ministry of Education. (1996). Te whāriki: He whāriki matauranga mo nga mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early childhood curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.

New Zealand Ministry of Education. (2011). Tātaiako: Cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners. Wellington: Ministry of Education & New Zealand Teachers Council.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural constructions of language and expression of language in the early years
  2. Evaluate current understandings and application of language acquisition in Aotearoa New Zealand
  3. Identify the multiple modes of communication in the early years
  4. Investigate and assess literacy practices and theories in the early years
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of pedagogical practice in supporting and promoting successful meaning-making and communication for the young child

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 09:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41

Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 09:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41