Linguistic Match Between Children and Caregivers in Canadian Early Childhood Education
There is evidence that match-mismatch of language and discursive practices between minority students and teachers is an important variable in explaining academic performance. This paper addresses the issue of the presence of staff persons in early childhood education (ECE) settings who speak languages in common with the children. The present study investigated: (a) the linguistic "match" between caregivers and children in 77 randomly selected, licensed, group childcare centres in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, and ( b) the linguistic diversity of student-educators and faculty in ECE training programs at 78 colleges and universities in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. Results of the study indicate that although caregivers spoke a variety oflanguages, 72% of non-English, non-Francophone children were in linguistically mismatched situations. For children of African, East Asian, and Latino (Hispanic) backgrounds, 87%, 83%, and 59% respectively were in linguistically mismatched situations. Results of the faculty study indicate there is relatively little diversity among student-educators and faculty members. A possible implication is that the Canadian Early Childhood Education (ECE) system, despite the good intentions of individual teachers, continues to operate in an assimilative mode which, in many instances, contributes to children's eventual loss of their home language and culture.