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Welcome to the course

Article summarises the course (Understanding Multilingual Children's Language Development) content and approach.
Group of children sitting on the floor in a classroom setting raising their hands
© University of Reading

Welcome to ‘Understanding Multilingual Children’s Language Development’, developed by the University of Reading’s Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) and Institute of Education (IoE).

The course has three main sections, or ‘Weeks’, each of which should take about three hours of flexible study to complete.

  • In Week 1, you’ll explore multilingualism and identity: what multilingualism is, the range of multilingual experience and the resulting wide variety of effects on language and communication development, why it’s important and how it’s relevant to identity.
  • In Week 2, you’ll find out about language development and multilingualism. This section focuses on language itself (the sounds of language, the meaning of language and the structure of language) and how it develops in multilingual children.
  • Finally, in Week 3, you’ll discuss multilingualism in practice: what does it look like in a classroom setting; how does it feel to be a multilingual child in the UK; and how can teachers and SLTs support children who speak English as an additional language?

The course showcases relevant research as well as examples of multilingualism in a school setting, but you’ll also reflect on your own practice. You’ll have an opportunity to build a profile of a fictional child as you progress through the course, to help you put into practice what you’ve learned. And you’ll be asked to carry out some investigations of your own and report back so that everyone can benefit from the broad range of backgrounds and experiences learners will have.

With special thanks to the fantastic staff and pupils at Mount Pleasant Junior School who kindly contributed to all of the videos in this course and provided a wonderful example of a diverse, rich and exciting multilingual learning environment for our case study.

school logo featuring an outline drawing of the clock tower and the words 'Mount Pleasant Junior School'

Your views: Would you like to take part in an optional research study?

We’d like to invite all learners on this course to take part in an optional study. The University of Reading is carrying out research into people’s perceptions of multilingualism. By taking part in this study, you’ll contribute to a better understanding of people’s perceptions of what counts as a language and of who is bilingual. We will use the findings to investigate how self-reports of language knowledge can be made more transparent to study participants in research. The University of Reading will share anonymous data collected during the study with other researchers through the University’s Research Data Archive.

To take part in the study, please click the link below. This poll should take 10 minutes to complete.

The poll includes six short scenarios on ‘what is a language’, and twenty about ‘who is bilingual’. Please read the statements carefully and choose a number from 1 to 10 for each question. There is no right or wrong answer, we are just interested in your opinions about language and about the monolingualism-bilingualism continuum.

Before the poll questions, we ask you to answer four questions about yourself to understand more about the background of the respondents.

We hope the questions will allow you to reflect on your own mindset and any changes doing the course might result in.

Take part in the study

Your responses are anonymous. Summarised findings will be published on the CeLM website and, in due course, submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. All the information collected during this study, will be stored and handled according to the University of Reading’s Privacy Policy. The survey has also received ethical approval for the research.

Thank you very much,
Prof. Ludovica Serratrice
University of Reading
School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Please note that this is an independent research study carried out by the University of Reading and your participation is subject to the University’s own policies and terms. FutureLearn takes no responsibility for the contents or the consequences of your participation in this study. Your participation in the research has no effect on your course progress, marks or FutureLearn profile.
© University of Reading
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Understanding Multilingual Children's Language Development

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