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What this course sets out to do

Video - a teacher and a speech and language therapist give their perspectives on multilingualism.

Meet Rebecca Simmons, Speech & Language Therapist in Solent NHS Trust and Reenaz Tarafdar, Year 6 teacher at Mount Pleasant Junior School in Southampton. How does their professional experience of multilingualism compare with yours?

The Salford Test

Reenaz mentioned the Salford Reading Test; a standardised assessment tool that provides teachers with a measure of pupil progress in reading. Scores relate to a reading age; this describes a child’s reading ability when considered against the expectations for a child of the same age.

In this course, you’ll

  • hear from University of Reading experts in multilingualism, language development, teacher education and speech and language therapy, and
  • explore how practitioners are engaging with and incorporating insights from this multidisciplinary approach into their developing professional practice.

We hope it will be a platform for discussion that will enable fruitful conversations between teachers and speech and language therapists (SLTs), because the more we know about what others are doing, the better placed we are to support multilingual children in our care.

The team

The Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) brings together a multidisciplinary group of researchers broadly interested in language, literacy and multilingualism. Members span multiple schools, departments and research centres across the University of Reading and are focused on bridging the gap between academic research and ensuring practical impact with relevant stakeholders. Its work focuses on five core themes: Language and Literacy, Education, Neuroscience and Cognition, Health, and Migration.

Professor Holly Joseph headshot of Holly Holly is a Professor of Language and Literacy Development at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. Her background is in Psychology and her research focuses on reading development and difficulties in monolingual and multilingual children. She is also Director of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM).
Professor Ludovica Serratrice headshot of Ludovica Ludovica is a Professor of Bi-multilingualism in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and former Director of CeLM (2018-21). She has been teaching about clinical linguistics, language development, and bilingualism since 2004. Ludovica has led several national and international research projects and published extensively on these topics. Before academia, she trained as a simultaneous interpreter in her native Italy. In addition to Italian and English, she speaks French (not as well as she would like).
Professor Naomi Flynn headshot of Naomi Naomi is a Professor of Multilingual Education at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education. She was a teacher for 17 years in inner-city linguistically-diverse schools before becoming a teacher educator. Her practitioner-focussed research centres on the design of professional learning for teachers of multilingual children. Recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award, Naomi has research partnerships with US teacher educators and has successfully translated US teaching approaches for multilingual learners to UK classrooms. She is also on the executive committee of the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC).
Dr Emma Pagnamenta headshot of Emma Emma is a Lecturer in Speech and Language Therapy as well as a clinical academic and practicing SLT working with children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. Prior to taking up her current role, Emma was the Research Manager for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
Laure Mallevays headshot of Laure Laure works as a Research Assistant for CeLM. Prior to this, she studied Psychology at the University of Leeds, where she conducted research on reading mechanisms in multilingual children. She went on to live and teach children in Madrid, Spain. From a French family based in London, she grew up in a multilingual and bi-cultural environment, which ignited her interest in looking at how languages shape experiences and development.

The approach

The course is:

  • evidence-based; you’ll find everything we say is backed up with research on how vocabulary, grammar and other aspects of language learning develop in multilingual children, from birth to the end of primary school. References are provided at the end of relevant Steps but we’ve summarised the research to make it accessible for busy professionals.
  • practical; we have considered what the research might mean in the context of your professional settings and explained our reasoning. We’ve also provided opportunities for you to discuss what it may mean in your own setting and share this with fellow learners.

The course is based on the UK education system where English is the societal language, but many of the key principles should be applicable to other countries. And because the course is aimed at two sets of practitioners, teachers and SLTs, you will have the opportunity to find out more about the other set’s practice, priorities and perspectives. The course is also likely to be of interest to those working in related fields, and those considering careers in teaching or speech therapy.

The course is endorsed by NALDIC, the national subject association for English as an additional language, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

logo of NALDIC logo of RCSLT
We are pleased to see the publication of this online course which will be a useful tool to reflect the current linguistic diversity of the UK. The course will empower speech and language therapists and teachers to understand and advocate for multilingual children’s development.

Judith Broll, Director of Professional Development at the RCSLT

To help you get full value from this course, we want to hear from you – your personal and professional experiences of multilingualism. Introduce yourself in the Comments area and say what your professional background and purpose for doing the course is. Please also share your opinions and ideas as you progress through the course. Take the time to read through what others have said and ‘like’ those you agree with or ‘reply’ if you have something to add.

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Understanding Multilingual Children's Language Development

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