• University of Reading

Understanding Multilingual Children's Language Development

Discover the benefits of multilingualism to enhance your practice in classroom, clinical, and home settings.

2,419 enrolled on this course

Photo of a group of children sitting on the floor in a classroom, looking n one direction, several with their hands up.

Understanding Multilingual Children's Language Development

2,419 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

Discover the value of multilingual environments at school and at home

Most people in the world speak more than one language and schools across the globe are becoming more and more multilingual as families move around.

However, training in supporting multilingual children is not a qualification requirement for teachers, and many teachers, speech and language therapists (SLTs), and parents feel unprepared to meet the needs of these pupils.

On this three-week course, you’ll gain the skills to support and nurture multilingual children.

Be empowered by the evidence from the University of Reading

A multidisciplinary team of experts will guide you through the research on multilingual language development which argues for more emphasis on using heritage languages both at school and at home.

To understand the value of creating rich and diverse multilingual environments for learning, you’ll develop your knowledge of how young children learn to understand and produce spoken language.

Become equipped to support multilingual children through peer learning

The course provides a platform for inter-professional dialogue between teachers and SLTs to help transform working practice so that multilingual children can reach their full potential.

Delving into a case study of a UK primary school, you’ll see how languages are valued and cherished in practice as you hear from a teacher and SLT who share their experiences in overcoming challenges.

Put your knowledge of multilingualism into practice

Throughout the course, you’ll develop a profile of a fictional child, and use it to plan an advocacy or support strategy that you can take back to your classroom or clinic.

Finally, you’ll be encouraged to reflect on three actions you can take as the first steps towards putting this learning into practice in your own professional setting.

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  • Week 1

    Multilingualism and Identity

    • What is multilingualism?

      Meet the Educator team, find out what you'll be learning on the course and discuss what the term 'multilingualism' means.

    • The range of multilingual experience

      Hear from children about their experience of speaking and reading multiple languages before exploring how multilingual children can be supported in a school setting.

    • Multilingualism and identity

      Explore the link between language and identity and what teachers and SLTs can do to support and nurture multilingual children's development.

    • Review and reflect

      Put what you've discovered about multilingualism this Week into practice and look ahead to what you'll cover in Week 2.

  • Week 2

    Language development and multilingualism

    • Being multilingual

      Explore the impact of the environment a child grows up in on their language development and how this is studied.

    • Mechanisms of language development in multilingual children

      Find out how multilinguism impacts language learning and discuss how different languages compare and contrast in different countries.

    • Mechanisms of phonological development, word learning and role of decoding

      Explore important language development mechanisms including decoding and crosslinguistic alignment.

    • Discourse level development

      Explore the role of vocabulary knowledge and why telling stories is so important to children's language development.

    • Review and reflect

      Review and test your understanding on the topics in Week 2 and and look ahead to what will be covered in Week 3.

  • Week 3

    Putting it into practice

    • When languages interact

      Learn more about code-switching and improve your understanding of multilingual language competence.

    • Quantity and quality of language input

      Discover the crucial role of language input and practical ways of nurturing a multilingual environment.

    • Putting it into practice

      Apply everything you've learnt through creating an advocacy strategy for your fictional child and discover relevant resources.

    • Review and what's next?

      Review your understanding of the topics you've covered in Week 3 and look ahead at how you can take your study further.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the wide range of multilingual contexts children grow up in and how these contexts may affect their language and communication development.
  • Explore the nature and trajectory of typical multilingual language development, including how young children learn to understand and produce spoken language.
  • Evaluate the importance of input (the languages children hear or read) and the benefits of parents/carers speaking their own language to their child.
  • Improve working practices to better support multilingual children to reach their full potential.
  • Engage with the challenges of creating diverse, rich multilingual environments in schools.
  • Reflect on what it means to grow up speaking more than one language, both at home and in the classroom/clinic.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who supports multilingual children – teachers working in Primary, Foundation Stage, and Early Years, speech and language therapists, and parents.

Who will you learn with?

Holly is a Professor of Language and Literacy Development at the Institute of Education and Director of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at University of Reading.

Ludovica is a professor of bi-multilingualism in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading and former director of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism

I am a Professor of multilingual education and a teacher educator. My research is focussed on teachers' professional learning to support their practice for multilingual learners.

Emma Pagnamenta is a clinical academic and practicing speech and language therapist, carrying out research, teaching & clinical work related to young people with speech, language & communication needs

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$54/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 5 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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