Early Childhood

Conceptual Framework for Supporting Early Language Acquisition

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Language is the key to the world and the central prerequisite for educational and integration opportunities. That is why one of the aims of the Department of Education of the Canton of Zurich is to support early language acquisition in young children up to age 4 in all important areas of their lives — in families, day families, daycare centres, and playgroups.

The Department bases its work in this area on the conceptual framework «Supporting Early Language Acquisition», prepared by the University of Teacher Education Thurgau PHTG Switzerland and the Marie Meierhofer Children's Institute (German). The conceptual framework describes the basic understanding of early language development and presents scientific bases, central guidelines, and specific features of successful early language acquisition. The conceptual framework is coordinated with the «Orientierungsrahmen für frühkindliche Bildung, Betreuung und Erziehung» [Orientation framework for early childhood education and care in Switzerland] (German).

Support of language acquisition integrated in everyday life

Supporting children’s language acquisition works best when it is done as a part of everyday life and in connection with the child’s immediate natural and social environment. The six guidelines on supporting early language acquisition in the conceptual framework show clearly what that means when concretely applied. The focus is on how adults can attentively support their young children in day-to-day life and promote their language acquisition — whether the children are growing up with one or more languages and whether their daytime life takes place at home or in a childcare facility outside the family. The guidelines are not simple instructions but instead provide professionals with foundations for reflection and further development of everyday support of language acquisition.

Reference work for professionals

The conceptual framework «Supporting Early Language Acquisition» is mainly for persons who deal with early language development promotion at a conceptual, planning level. This includes people in educational administration and social services, associations, early childhood education facilities, research, and policy. It is not directly addressed to immediate caregivers like parents or play group leaders. Based on the conceptual framework, practical materials such as short films and recommendations are being developed for direct caregivers.

Printed copies of the conceptual framework «Supporting Early Language Acquisition» can be ordered by e-mail: bildungsplanung@bi.zh.ch


Natali Pesic