In Australia, over one third of all children in Early Childhood programs speak a first language other than
English. Despite considerable work into teachers’ beliefs on cultural diversity, attention to aspects of
second language acquisition in the Early Years has been limited within the Early Childhood field. This
paper reports on a small study investigating how four early childhood educators understand theory of
Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and bilingualism, and how they cater for language-minority
students in their programs. The findings revealed a complex interplay between the way participants
interpret and support the needs of these children, their experience in the field, and professional education.
The teachers in the study reveal various perspectives on how SLA and bilingualism manifest during the
early years, and how they affect the learning of children with a Language Background other than English
(LBOTE). The teachers also seemed to rely on experiential and intuitive approaches in planning and
teaching English Language Learners (ELLs). This study brings new perspectives to understanding the
nature of teachers’ beliefs and practice regarding English language learners.