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Oral input has long been recognised as a key factor influencing second language acquisition in early childhood. Children rely heavily on oral input to learn new words and develop phonological awareness of a language. However, in the context of English teaching in Hong Kong kindergartens — which feature diversity in language use in the classroom — little work has been done on the oral input given to children. This study examined the English oral input of teachers in Hong Kong kindergarten classrooms. It investigated the amount and features of teachers’ English oral input, and how the input affected the conditions for English language learning. Classroom observations were conducted monthly for three months with one native speaking (NS) and two non-native speaking (NNS) kindergarten teachers together with a total of 44 Chinese-speaking children. The research used the Oral Input Quality Observation Scheme developed for systematically collecting oral input and output data from the teachers and children respectively. The results show that the learning activities did not seem to be hindered by the different pronunciations of the NS and NNS teachers. However, the NS teacher tended to use a broader variety of vocabulary and a richer amount of English than the NNS teachers. Both the NS and NNS teachers demonstrated limitations in pedagogical skills in teaching the children English pronunciation. The implications of the results are discussed in relation to the context of English teaching in Hong Kong kindergartens.
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