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Use of capital and lower case letters in ECE: Perspectives from Australasia & Sweden
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7113-647x
Göteborgs universitet.
2019 (English)In: Early Childhood Network, 2019Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This research investigates traditions and theories guiding early childhood education (ECE) use of capital and lower-case letters in Australasia and Sweden. Our earlier research (Mellgren & Margrain, 2015) indicated that Swedish preschool teachers commonly write a name in full capitals (ELLA) but Australasian teachers instead use only the first letter as a capital (Ella). Through interviews, this study probed beliefs about modelling writing, young children’s own writing, teacher education, literacy theory and ECE practice.

 

Nine higher education academics were purposefully recruited and interviewed, amongst known networks of higher education ECE literacy expertise. Five interviews were conducted in Sweden, two in Australia, and two from New Zealand. Semi­structured interviews allowed respondents to discuss aspects of their own interest, expertise and theoretical understanding.  Thematic analysis of transcribed interview data uncovered articulated rationale for writing practices, beliefs and theories. Australian National and Swedish Research Council requirements for ethical practice were followed, for example use of pseudonymisation, and approved gained by an Australian university ethics committee.

 

Findings indicated consistent difference between Australasian and Swedish perspectives, with each group somewhat surprised that there could be any question of how written text was modelled. All Australasian respondents indicated that use of a capital letter was to only be used at the start of a name or start of a sentence, even for and by very young children. They used terms such as ‘appropriate’, ‘conventional’, ‘right’, ‘correct’ and ‘obvious’, taking the view that ECE should follow school traditions to support children’s transition, and written text must follow the model of book-reading. However, Swedish participants all indicated that the full use of capitals was the more common way text was used in Swedish preschools, both as modelled by teachers and used by children. Rationale included that it is physically easier for children to write in block strokes, that teachers followed the way preferred by children, and that there were many examples of capital letter word use in wider society, especially in advertising. It was articulated that the preschool could have its own literacy traditions, separate from school. They indicated it was important to take the child’s perspective, with the approach guided by the aim of writing. These contrasting perspectives can be connected to theories of literacy as social practice (Makin, Jones Diaz & McLachlan, 2007), and ECE/school traditions. Neither group appeared sure of their theoretical stands for the use of capital or lower-case letters in ECE.

 

The study has relevance to Nordic educational research since it shares information about Swedish preschool writing traditions and the role of ECE. The comparative analysis with countries from the other side of the world is useful as increasing globalisation means that families enter preschools and schools with culturally diverse literacy traditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
early years, literacy, writing, capital letters, lower case letters, Sweden, Australasia
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Educational Work; Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-74487OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-74487DiVA, id: diva2:1345091
Conference
Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA/NFPF) Conference
Available from: 2019-08-22 Created: 2019-08-22 Last updated: 2019-08-26Bibliographically approved

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Margrain, Valerie

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
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More styles
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  • asciidoc
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