Part-time PhD student Sarah Coles is currently researching UK-born children’s lived experiences of growing up in more than one language. In this blog, she considers the place of the home language in the linguistic landscape of bilingual children from linguistic minority communities.
My research focuses on the development
of both first language (L1) and English (L2) of bilingual children growing up
as members of linguistic minority communities in an L2 context. It’s a longitudinal study that follows a
small sample of bilingual children through their first year of schooling. Using picture sequences, I elicit stories
from each child, one in L1 and another in English, their L2. This will be done once at the beginning of
the fieldwork phase and again at the end.
In this way, I hope to be able to identify how the children’s two
languages evolve over time and to document any shift in dominance from one
language to another that may occur. I
will also work with each child to explore their lived experiences of growing up
in two languages. Additional contextual
information, including the detail of their own language use, will be gathered
from the children’s parents. Ultimately,
through the children’s own narratives, I hope to deepen practitioners’
understanding of bilingual children in the Foundation Stage and to pinpoint
some practical ways in which support for such children might be tailored to
improve their engagement with their learning.
Setting the scene: two
broad-brush models of bilingual development
Across the globe, monolingualism is not the norm for all
children; exposure to more than one language and bilingual development from an
early age is in fact more prevalent than a monolingual model. Children may experience different routes in
their journeys to bilingualism dependent on their immediate family contexts. Some children will be born into households
where each parent speaks a different language and the child has access to both
from birth. This might be described as simultaneous
bilingualism. Other families may be part
of a settled immigrant community and the child may experience a monolingual
start, being exposed to a minority language at home and, later in their
development, the majority language outside of it. This would describe sequential
The outcomes for children growing
up in bilingual settings are varied. Some
will go on to develop comparable skills - receptive and productive – in their
two (or more) languages and will be able to function in different contexts –
school, home, community – equally well in both/all. At the other end of the spectrum, it is just
as possible for a child to have exposure to two (or more) languages yet to
learn to speak only one themselves.
The possible impact of differential linguistic prestige
There are various factors that may
influence the course and outcome of a bilingual child’s language
development. One that seems to be significant
relates to people’s perception of the relative prestige of the child’s two – or
more - languages. A child from a linguistic
minority community may experience a monolingual start to life with exposure to
the minority language in the home from their main care-givers from birth. Later, and because it is the language of
schooling, the child is required to develop a second, additional language,
English. For such a child, the second
language is where the cultural capital resides, it being the language of the majority
community. Because of its sociocultural
dominance over the minority language, it is often the case that this second
language becomes the child’s preferred one, eventually replacing their first,
This is a scenario experienced by
many children of Hampshire’s UK-born ethnic and linguistic minority communities. They may, in their early years, be exposed to
– let’s say – Nepali at home but later, when they start school, English. From that point onwards, families may notice
their child gradually ceases to use Nepali, preferring to respond in English
even when addressed in first language (L1).
This end result is sometimes referred to as ‘passive bilingualism’
although as De Houwer (2009) notes there is “nothing passive about
understanding two languages and speaking one”.
The possible impact of quantity of input experienced
A second consideration is the quantity
of language input experienced by the child.
In a monolingual context, the language of the home is the same as the
language of the wider community and – often – of education too. Everywhere the child goes and everyone they
meet speaks the same language. Hence the
child has multiple models of the same, single language. In contrast, linguistic minority children born
in the UK may have exposure to L1 at home and L2 (English) outside of it. Hence their overall exposure to L1 is – in
most cases - reduced.
The impact of reduced exposure to
each of the bilingual child’s two languages has been explored by researchers
with an interest in child language development.
One thing that’s emerged is the observation that a child’s lexicon (the
words they know and use) in each of their languages reflects the amount of
exposure the child has to each language – which is typically less for each
language than the total exposure to their one language experienced by a
monolingual child of similar age. When
their vocabularies in both languages are combined, however, the overall picture
of these bilingual children’s lexical development has been found to be on a par
with their monolingual peers.
Further, research has identified
that if the words known by a bilingual child are listed, only about one third
represent words that are translations of each other; i.e. two thirds of the
words a bilingual child knows in one of their languages are known only in that
language and are not shared with the child’s other language. This is likely to be directly related to differences
in the contexts in which each language is used and the communicative purpose being
The possible impact of context
Some researchers have found there to be discrepancies
between UK-born bilingual children’s skills in L1 (the heritage language)
compared with those of children of comparable age but growing up in a
monolingual context. They suggest that
the L1 skills of bilingual children growing up in the UK are unlikely to reach
a level comparable to monolingual children growing up in country of origin. This, they say, is largely due to reduced
exposure to the heritage language from adult L1 models who may themselves be
experiencing language loss due to lack of use.
The overall outcome, some have suggested, is likely to be ‘incomplete L1
Elsewhere in the literature, the notion that ‘incomplete first language development’ exists at all attracts criticism. Some have argued that all intergenerational first language transmission, including that which takes place in monolingual settings, evidences change. According to this view, what others may see as ‘errors’ in L1 in fact represent “normal intergenerational language change accelerated by conditions of language contact” (Otheguy, 2016). According to this view, in immigrant populations new L1 norms will naturally develop, resulting in divergence between L1 use in an L2 immersion context compared with L1 use in a monolingual, home country context. Hence context has a bearing on the language models to which a bilingual child might be exposed.
The possible impact of the language modelled
Another important consideration when it comes to a child’s
language development is the nature of the language models to which they are
exposed. Typically, linguistic minority parents
themselves do not function in a monolingual context and this can have an impact
on their everyday language practices.
The result is often an incremental increase in both code-switching (characterised
by swapping from one language to another at word/phrase level) and code-mixing
(combining grammatical structures from both languages) where in their
speech they move in a fluid, natural way between languages, swapping a word or
a phrase here and borrowing a grammatical structure there.
In the literature, code-mixing and code-switching are identified
as common linguistic practices amongst bilingual populations. Having been found to be rule-based and
systematic, code-switching and code-mixing are these days viewed in a
favourable light as opposed to the deficit view that prevailed in the past that
stigmatised them as “…the haphazard embodiments of “language confusion”
Although limited in terms of the number of empirical studies into the impact on bilingual children’s language development of code-switching and code-mixing by their parents, research suggests that bilingual adults frequently engage in these practices in interactions with their children. This is in line with trends identified in the broader sweep of studies into bilingual code-switching and code-mixing. What it means for a child growing up in more than one language is that they are likely to experience code-switching and code-mixing in language inputs modelled by family members and other significant adults around them. This may in turn prompt them to code-switch and code-mix themselves in their own speech.
Code-switching and code-mixing in
parental inputs appear to influence L1 development in children growing up as
members of language minority communities in other ways too. Some studies have found a negative
correlation, with higher rates of code-switching and code-mixing by parents resulting
in lower comprehension and production vocabulary sizes in young children. Others have identified that code-switched
input, arguably more challenging to process than input in a single language,
has positive outcomes but only for those children with greater verbal working
memory capacity who are capable of processing it.
What this means for my research
To draw to a close, the above
whistle-stop tour illustrates that bilingual language development is a complex,
multi-faceted phenomenon. It is affected
by multiple influences, each impacting in different ways and to different
degrees on the individual child in their own specific context. Through my research, I make space for a small
sample of UK-born bilingual children to explore these differences and to focus
on their first-hand experiences of growing up in more than one language. Once this has happened, any findings relevant
to practitioners working with young, UK-born bilingual learners will be shared
so that all bilingual children in Hampshire schools and settings receive a Year
R experience that is sensitive to their developmental needs.
De Houwer, A. (2009). Bilingual
first language acquisition (1st ed., Vol. 2). Multilingual Matters.
MacSwan, J. (2017). A Multilingual Perspective on
Translanguaging. American educational research journal, 54(1), 167-201.
Otheguy, R. (2016). The linguistic competence of
second-generation bilinguals Romance linguistics 2013 : selected papers from the 43rd Linguistic Symposium on
Romance Languages (LSRL), New York,
17-19 April, 2013, New York.
By Claire Barker
long last we bring you the good news that the EMTAS conference will take place
on 15th October 2021 at The Holiday Inn, Winchester. We
are delighted that this will be an in person event; over the last eighteen
months, the conference date has been moved several times because we really
wanted to be able to meet and greet you face to face. This is, at last,
possible and we look forward to welcoming practitioners who work in any phase
of education from EYFS to KS4 to the long-awaited event.
Conference is titled ‘All in this together – going from strength to
strength’. This reflects the post pandemic fatigue felt by many of us and
how we now need to move forward together to support our EAL and GRT children
who have maybe struggled with their education during the pandemic. Many
EAL and GRT children will have lost skills they’d acquired in English and will
now be playing catch up. Many will have missed out on peer-to-peer
interaction and the opportunities this provides to develop social language and
interpersonal skills. On the positive side, some will have improved their
first language skills as a result of spending more time living in that
language. Others will have increased their ICT skills and their digital
literacy and this will be a focus of one of our workshops, how to use ICT
programmes to support literacy in the classroom.
We are very fortunate to be able to welcome Eowyn Crisfield, who is a well know name in linguistic communities. Eowyn is a Canadian-educated specialist in languages across the curriculum, including EAL, home languages, bilingual and immersion education, super-diverse schools and translanguaging. Her focus is on equal access to learning and language development for all students, and on appropriate and effective professional development for teachers working with language learners. She is author of the recent book ‘Bilingual Families: A practical language planning guide (2021) and co-author of “Linguistic and Cultural Innovation in Schools: The Languages Challenge” (2018 with Jane Spiro). She is also a Senior Lecturer in TESOL at Oxford Brookes University.
Our very own Deputy Team Leader, Sarah Coles is currently studying for her PhD. Sarah’s longitudinal study, now in its fourth year, focuses on children with Nepali or Polish in their backgrounds. These two languages represent the greatest number of referrals made by schools to Hampshire EMTAS, hence the relevance of the research to the Hampshire context. In her presentation, Sarah will consider some of the features of the linguistic soundscape experienced by UK-born bilingual children. Drawing on findings from her pilot study, she will discuss the use of the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives, drawing attention to some points of note for mainstream practitioners with an interest in language development.
Our third keynote speaker of the day is Leanda Hawkins. Leanda is from a Hampshire Romany family with a long history of culture and heritage. She went on to Higher Education, and has carved a career supporting children with special educational needs. Her motivation is to help all children progress and thrive through education. Leanda will share her experiences of education as a child, student and artist now working as Behavioural Lead and HLTA in a federated school in Hampshire.
The workshop offer will include a session with Eowyn looking at 'Language and literacy development for multilingual learners: What do we know and what can we do?'. There will be an interactive IT session looking at OT programmes to support literacy in the classroom led by Lynne Chinnery. Jamie Earnshaw will lead a workshop focusing on the 'New Hampshire EMTAS first language support programmes'. Helen Smith will host a session on 'Literacy for GRT pupils and breaking barriers in the school community'. Sarah Coles will lead a session on ‘MAIN - Multi-Lingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives'.
The Conference promises to be exciting and informative. Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in two workshop sessions as well as time to visit the stalls that will promote and highlight resources to help support EAL and GRT students.
If you would like to continue your studies in EAL best practice the new Supporting English as an Additional Language(SEAL) course begins later this term. If you are interested in this course please contact HTLC to book a place or email: Claire.Barker@hants.gov.uk for more information.
We are looking forward to seeing you at our future events.
By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors
Welcome to this new academic year. The EMTAS team is feeling refreshed after the summer holiday and looks forward to continuing their work. We’re particularly excited to support more schools this year as they work towards achieving an EAL or GRT Excellence Award. In this blog you will find out what’s in store for 2021-22 to support your professional development as well as your award submission. You will also learn more about our Heritage Honours Award, find out about staff changes in our team and catch up with important research projects.
The dates of our EAL network meetings can be found on our
website. We will also be holding
specific network meetings for Early Career Teachers, the details of which can
be found on the same page of our website. The termly GRT-focused network meetings will continue to be held
online this year. Like our EAL network meetings, they are free to
attend for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out when the next ones
are, check the Training section of the EMTAS website.
We are very much looking forward to the EMTAS Conference on Friday 15th October at the Holiday Inn in Winchester. It promises to be an enlightening day with Eowyn Crisfield as one of our keynote speakers. She is an acclaimed expert in languages across the curriculum and has a wealth of knowledge in this field. Sarah Coles will be sharing her research findings on ‘Pathways to bilingualism: young children’s experiences of growing up in two languages’ and Leanda Hawkins will speak of her experiences of education from the perspective of belonging to the Romany community. There will also be a selection of cross phase workshops for delegates to take part in and stalls to see some of the latest resources available to support EAL and GRT pupils in education. Everyone who signs up will receive a free set of the latest EAL Conversation Cards valued at £45. There are limited spaces so please sign up as soon as possible. For further information and online booking please see our flyer attached to this blog.
We are pleased to announce that we have new E-learning modules now available:
- Supporting children and families from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) backgrounds
- Developing culturally inclusive practice in Early Years settings
- The appropriate placement of learners with EAL in groups, sets and streams.
Our e-learning modules are free to access for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out how to obtain a login, please see our Moodle.
Heritage Honours Award
The EMTAS Heritage Honours award, launched last academic year, celebrates the achievements of children from BME, EAL and GRT backgrounds at school and within the home/community. Children and young people can be nominated for an award by the school they are currently attending. More than 60 successful nominations were received last year. Reasons for nomination variously include success in heritage language examinations, practical and creative use of first language within the school environment, sharing cultural background with peers, acting as an empathetic peer buddy, success in community sporting events and excellent progress in learning EAL. Nominations are now open for this year. To find out more about how to nominate a pupil, see our Moodle.
Debra Page is entering the third and final year of her PhD researching the Young Interpreter Scheme. Data
collection happened online due to the pandemic and the first and second wave of data collection with 84 children across 5 schools is now complete. The third and final data collection will be in November and all the data
will then be managed and analysed. In her last update, Debra shared a YI diary
and additional training resource she created. She delivered this virtually with
each school during their YI training session and initial feedback has been very positive. It is hoped that these extra resources will form part of the YI
training in the near future. The children are excited to complete their diaries
about the work that they do as a Young Interpreter. If the diary is something
that you are interested in, please get in touch. We look forward to finding out
results of what is learnt about the Young Interpreter Scheme.
Sarah Coles will update us on her own PhD in a separate blog very soon. Her PhD is part time and she’s just embarking on her fourth year of study. She’ll mainly be involved in data collection this year and a number of schools with children from Polish and Nepali families starting in Year R have agreed to support this. Sarah is hoping the families she and members of our Bilingual Assistant team approach will be similarly willing to be involved.
At the end of last term, we wished Chris Pim a happy retirement and welcomed back Astrid Dinneen following her maternity leave. As a result, we have made some changes to the geographical areas the specialist teacher team will be covering:
Sarah Coles – Winchester
Lisa Kalim – New Forest
Astrid Dinneen – Basingstoke & Deane
Jamie Earnshaw – Eastleigh, Fareham and Gosport
Claire Barker – Hart, Rushmoor and East Hants
Lynne Chinnery – Havant, Waterlooville and Isle of Wight
Helen Smith – Test Valley
Sarah, Claire and Helen will also cover GRT work across the county.
We also welcome Abi Guler to our Bilingual Assistant team. He will be working with our Turkish families. We are delighted to have also newly recruited Fiona Calder as our new Black Children's Achievement Project Assistant.
We are all looking forward to continuing working with you. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the blog digest and visit our website.
By the Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisors
This last year has been busier than ever for the EMTAS team.
Our Bilingual Assistants (BAs), led by our BA Manager Eva Papathanassiou, have been working tirelessly, remotely throughout the national lockdowns and then, when it became possible, in person, providing support to pupils, families and schools. Much time has been spent by our BAs supporting children and families with accessing online learning.
We have seen an increase in the number of referrals compared to last year and have been busy ensuring that all requests are responded to. The most popular languages referred to us this year have been Nepali, Polish, Romanian, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese and Cantonese.
Our language phone lines have also been popular. The phone lines are available to support with sharing information with parents/carers, answering any questions they have and helping with home-school communication. Contact details and the list of languages can be found here.
Over with the Traveller team, new this year a series of termly GRT-focused network meetings were held online. These will continue to be online through 2021-22 in order to make them accessible to staff in schools across the county. Like our other network meetings, they are free to attend for Hampshire-maintained schools. To find out when the next ones are, check the Training section of the EMTAS website.
The EMTAS Admin team have continued to offer back-office support, maintaining records, sending out resources and dealing in impressively efficient ways with new referrals that have been flooding in from schools since the end of the last lockdown.
EAL/GRT Excellence Award
We are delighted that over 60 schools have started to work towards their EAL or GRT Excellence Awards this term.
Congratulations to the following schools who have successfully submitted or completed the validation process this year:
Petersfield Infant School
Validated at Gold
Merton Infant School
Validated at Gold
Whiteley Primary School
Validated at Bronze
John Keble C of E Primary and Ampfield C of E Primary Federation
Validated at Silver
Awaiting validation for Bronze
Validated at Bronze
Manor Field Infants
Validated at Silver
St John the Baptist C of E
Validated at Silver
Heritage Honours Award
The EMTAS Heritage Honours Award, launched this academic year, celebrates the achievements of children from BME, EAL and GRT backgrounds at school and within the home/community. Children and young people can be nominated for an award by the school they are currently attending.
More than 65 successful nominations have been made this year. Reasons for nomination variously include success in heritage language examinations, practical and creative use of first language within the school environment, sharing cultural background with peers, acting as an empathetic peer buddy, success in community sporting events and excellent progress in acquiring EAL.
Congratulations to all the children and families involved. Find out more here.
The team has been busy developing new pieces of E-learning this year which will be available from September 2021.
- Supporting children and families from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) backgrounds
- Developing culturally inclusive practice in Early Years settings
- The appropriate placement of learners with EAL in groups, sets and streams
The e-learning modules can be accessed on our Moodle here.
Supporting English as an Additional Language (SEAL)
This is a course aimed at Teaching Assistants and it covers key aspects of practice and provision in relation to pupils for whom English is an Additional language. The full course comprises 6 modules which are delivered one a term over two years. There is a new SEAL course starting in October 2021.
For further details, please go to the Training section on the EMTAS website.
Thank you for all the positive feedback we have received about the remote support we have provided in the Guidance Library section of our Moodle. We will continue to add to this next year. Access our Guidance library here.
This year, we have published 20 blogs, written by a range of practitioners, including EMTAS Bilingual Assistants and Specialist Teachers, school-based staff and University students. We look forward to continuing to publish a fortnightly blog next year.
If you would like to contribute, please do get in touch with Astrid Dinneen firstname.lastname@example.org (who would like to say a massive thank you to Jamie Earnshaw for editing the blog so beautifully during her maternity leave).
EMTAS Resources Update
This year, we have been busy adding to our Resource Library. Below, we have listed some of the resources available to loan. You will also find a link to our online catalogue, so you can view all the resources we have available.
Each book has a series of props, made from key characters/events in the story, on lolly sticks (six of each prop), plus six copies of a key phrase that is used throughout the book. This resource can then be used with a group of children, who can enjoy telling the story in their own language, or share in English, using the props, or in many other ways. The resource can be lent out with one dual language version of the book.
Some of the stories we have include:
- Sports Day in the Jungle – Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
- The Hungry Caterpillar - Punjabi
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? – Arabic, Albanian, Bengali, Chinese, Portuguese, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Shona, Hindi, Panjabi
- Farmer Duck – Bengali, Chinese, Malayalam, Turkish, Urdu, Bulgarian, Japanese, Panjabi, Romanian, Hindi, Nepali, Polish, Tagalog, German
- Monkey Puzzle – Brazilian Portuguese
EAL Story sacks
We have in stock a selection of EAL story sacks. They come in stories suitable for KS1. They have the story book, story props, and an audio CD of the story. Plus, they have a DVD with printable resources of activities for children with EAL.
Fiction for older readers
For the later primary and early secondary age (10 – 14 years), we do have many stories that can be enjoyed, in a variety of languages. We also have some of the very popular choices of fiction, such as Harry Potter and Tom Gates, in some languages.
We have a range of GCSE texts available to loan, such as A Christmas Carol, Animal Farm, Macbeth, and Romeo & Juliet, available in different languages including Polish, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Italian and Spanish. There are direct translations, thesaurus versions, graphic versions and GCSE notes.
We have a large range of exam dictionaries, which are word to word only and do not have a definition or what the word means.
New books for older readers with low reading ages
We now have a range of reading books available, primarily aimed at secondary school aged students who have low reading ages but many are also suitable for upper primary school aged pupils too. They have been written specifically with older readers in mind and so the content has been chosen to interest this age group, ensuring that the readers do not feel that the books are ‘babyish’ even though the text itself may be relatively simple.
The reading ages of the books range from approximately 5-6 years old to around 9-10 years old. They have been divided into nine groups so that books with similar reading ages can be easily identified. Books from a particular colour band for an individual student can be borrowed, matched to their reading level, then, as the student’s reading skills improve, a book from the next colour band up could be borrowed as their reading skills improve.
These books would be suitable for older new arrivals who need support to develop their reading skills in English and for whom reading books aimed at younger readers would not be suitable. They would also be appropriate for older students with EAL who also have SEND or for older pupils from Traveller backgrounds who are still developing their reading skills.
A word of warning about using these books with UASC and refugees – there are some titles within this group of books that are not suitable for use with UASC or refugees due to either the genre, content or illustrations. This is because these children and young people may have experienced trauma either in their country of origin or during their journey to the UK and some of the books may remind them of this.
EMTAS Library Catalogue
The EMTAS Library Catalogue can be found on our website here. Use the search box at the very top right-hand side of the screen to search for resources in a particular language. You can then email our Resources Manager, Julie Yates, who will arrange for the resources to be sent out via the courier.
Contact Julie Yates at email@example.com
At the end of this term, we will be bidding farewell to a number of colleagues.
Chris Pim, who retires at the end of the summer term, has been a member of the EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor team for many years. Schools in Fareham and Gosport will know him particularly well as he’s been their District teacher and has provided ad hoc advice and support as well as network meetings and other training opportunities. Until handing over to Lynne Chinnery in September 2020, Chris was also often to be found in schools in Havant and Waterlooville performing a similar role.
Chris’s particular interest has been in the use of ICTs and he leaves a fantastic legacy in this area. His project on the use of immersive gaming as a driver for writing was exemplary EAL practice in the classroom. He’s been instrumental in conceiving of and developing the EMTAS EAL e-learning available to schools across the county as part of the SLA. The EMTAS Moodle, the blog, the videoscribes and the app ‘Big Ideas’ were other contributions made by Chris to the resources available to staff in schools. He led on the project that looked at Hampshrie’s Fijian communities, resulting in a dual language book about Rugby being produced, along with two new Fijian/English versions of titles in the Mantra collection of dual language books. We also have Chris to thank for the new Heritage Honours Award, the subject of a recent blog from Henry Cort. All at EMTAS will miss him greatly.
On the Bilingual Assistant team, we say goodbye to Cintia, who has been working with our Portuguese speaking children and families, and Marianne, who has been supporting our French referrals. We wish them the best of luck in their new ventures.
We extend a warm welcome back Astrid Dinneen, who returned in July following maternity leave. Astrid will be back working with schools in Basingstoke & Deane, along with overseeing the blog and the Young Interpreter Scheme, and much more!
As a result of the staff changes to the teacher team, there will be some changes to the geographical areas the Specialist teacher team will be covering from September. Helen Smith has spent the last year supporting schools in Basingstoke and Deane but, from September, Astrid will be resuming her work in this area. Instead, Helen will be supporting schools in Test Valley. As we bid farewell to Chris Pim, Jamie Earnshaw will be taking the lead in Fareham and Gosport.
We also welcome Abi Guler to our Bilingual Assistant team. He will be working with our Turkish families.
We have some exciting projects up our sleeves for 2020-21!
After having to be postponed on two occasions, we are very much looking forward to our EMTAS Conference, which is to be held on Friday 15th October.
We will be continuing to hold our termly network meetings. Check the Training section of the EMTAS website for dates and to see what these sessions will cover.
Following the support we provided to students completing a Heritage Language GCSE this academic year, we look forward to sharing the results in September. We will also be getting ready to support students with Heritage Language GCSEs in the autumn and again next summer. We will keep you posted with news of the packages of support we will be offering.
Have a great summer and we look forward to seeing you all next term!
More news coming soon...
Visit the Hampshire EMTAS website
In this response to Astrid Dinneen’s letter style blog published here in February, bilingual baby daughter Elise shares her experiences of being raised in two languages. Bonus material – find Elise’s top resources in her post scriptum.
I really wanted to write to you in response
to your letter to me where you discussed your first steps as a bilingual mum.
I’ve definitely noticed you and Daddy don’t
always speak to me and others in the same language. From what I’ve observed Daddy
always speaks in English and when you and I are alone you speak to me in
French. When Daddy is around you speak in English or sometimes a mixture of
both French and English. When we leave the house you continue to speak to me in
French but then speak in English with most people we bump into or meet - mind
you sometimes it’s hard to make out what language you’re speaking when you wear
a mask that covers your mouth. You do speak French with other people than me
I’ve noticed. For example, you have regular conversations with Mamie* over
WhatsApp. I’ve also heard you speak French with a couple of mums we met through
our baby group. As for neighbours, friends and family – they stood in the front
garden and waved through the window but I’m sure you and Daddy both spoke to them in English. I wonder if
we’ll ever have French-speaking visitors one day and if they’ll be allowed to
come in and play with me.
One mum asked how I was coping with both my
languages. I suppose it might all sound confusing to some but it’s in fact all
normal to me. I’ve never known life in one language only and I see you’re
constantly navigating between both French and English so it must be quite
normal for you too. Is this why you frowned when you completed this year’s
census? ‘What is your main language?’ they asked. ‘This is the language you use
most naturally. For example it could be the language you use at home' they
explained. The choices were ‘English’ or ‘Other’. You and I don’t have a main single
language, do we? From what I’ve gathered it’s perfectly possible for someone to
use more than one language naturally depending on who they speak to, where and
for what purpose. If I grow up to become a statistician one day, I’ll suggest
the survey allows you to check both English and Other.
Unlike the census, I sense people around us
recognise both our main languages as being equally important. For example in
the beginning Daddy didn’t use any French but I’m increasingly noticing his
attempts to use words and phrases linked to our routine and he knows a
surprisingly wide range of animal names including the word for my seahorse bath
toy (hippocampe). I guess repetition and active listening are helping babies and
grownups alike. Some mums also show an interest and say hello to me in French.
Mamie is learning English in her spare time and my cousins are learning French
at school. Your friend from work also lent us French board books from the
resources centre at EMTAS after she read your letter to me. This all makes me
feel very good because it shows me that both my languages are highly valued by my
important people as well as by other, friendly people. It would mean a lot to
me if everyone around me continued to be so supportive because I think it will
help me feel confident to be a bilingual baby.
Lately I heard you talk about returning to
work and going to nursery. I have a feeling I’ll be the one going to nursery
and you’ll be the one going to work, meaning we’ll probably no longer be spending
all of our time together. As I write this letter, we haven’t yet been allowed
to visit the nursery or meet anyone in person because of the virus so I’ve no
idea if my bilingual experience will continue when you and I are apart. If
everyone at nursery speaks English all the time like I suspect they will, how
will this impact my language
development in French? Might it mean that English will end up being my ‘main
language' after all, due to reduced input in French? Is there any way you could
spend time with me during the week so I don’t have to wait for evenings and
weekends to hear you speak French?
Anyway, I’m off to listen to my bilingual playlist
of nursery rhymes you and Daddy have put together for me. I love how all the
animals get into mischief no matter what language you sing!
Astrid carefully considered Elise’s compelling
case and will return to work at the beginning of July for four days a week –
Wednesday being her day off.
We look forward to welcoming Astrid back on Thursday, 8th July.
PS: Elise’s top resources
In no particular order:
@minibilingue on Twitter – Conversations avec my bilingual son - love these snapshots of a bilingual little boy translanguaging in French and English. An example: ‘Pousse ta chaise away s’il te plaît !’
Crisfield, E (2021) Bilingual families,
A Practical Language Planning Guide Multilingual Matters, Bristol – a handy
book for mums and dads to consider their babies’ language goals and how to
KIDIDOC (2011) Mon imagier de la ferme NATHAN,
Paris – a book where I learnt French ducks go ‘coin coin' whereas English ducks
go ‘quack quack'. What a world!
Donaldson, J & Scheffler, A (2015) Rabbit’s
nap Macmillan, London – an epic story I equally enjoy when my Daddy reads it
in English and when Maman retells it in French. Ce lapin est fatigué.
Amazon Music – 80 comptines pour enfants
et bébés – a playlist which showed me some animal names are conveniently the
same in both French and English, just pronounced differently e.g. elephant,
Gründ (2019) Mes premières chansons du
Nord Éditions Gründ, Paris – an interactive book of songs from Northern France,
a region very dear to my French family by the sound of things even though they
live in the Pyrénées. Could it be that your sense of identity and belonging is more
a regional than a national notion? Something to explore in another blog if I’m
allowed to hijack it again in the future!
In this blog, Cristina Mitchell, Romanian-speaking Bilingual Assistant at Hampshire EMTAS, reflects on how technology has evolved and the positive impact it has had on her recent work with schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.
What do you think your children would say if
you were to tell them that you did not use any electronic devices in your childhood?
They may laugh, they may feel sorry for you or they may say you lived in
ancient times. It is hard to believe nowadays that it was possible to live that
way. But it is real that we lived very different times. Some may argue life was
good and some may not understand how someone can live without a phone or a
tablet. It is for each of us to choose and decide how the technology has helped
us in life. Has the use of technology made your life easier and more
complicated at the same time? Have you got concerns that our children, who are
growing up with technology, will become tech-savvy or more robots than humans?
It is human nature to worry and look at the negatives, but I like to look at technology
as incredibly helpful in my life journey.
I grew up in a world of books, playing
outdoors, practising sports and talking to people face to face. Until I was 14,
we had only watched TV for 10 minutes on Saturdays (Tom and Jerry cartoons), as
under communism, my home country, Romania, would only broadcast 2 hours a day (mostly
politics). I was 14 when my father showed me a computer in his office and
allowed me to play a computer game with bricks. It was not until my first year
of university when I first used a computer for learning. Mobile phones appeared
in my life after I graduated from university. Until then, we used to write
letters to communicate with people who were not local, telegrams for something
urgent, announcements in newspapers and landline phone calls and fax machines.
After I graduated from university, I
started using the internet as a learning tool and to speed up and widen my
communication. When I moved to the USA, I started using Yahoo messenger to keep
in touch with my family back in Europe.
The impact of technology on my support
Due to the pandemic, the use of technology
to support my work as a Bilingual Assistant (BA) has increased dramatically
over the last year. The BA team were in
the situation where we had to find ways and solutions to transfer the support
offered to schools and children in a non-face to face approach, which we had
never done before. Technology and online platforms have become more relevant
Moving to online support has been an
interesting change for me as I love technology and I am always happy to explore
innovative ways to support children. However, delivering online sessions is not
for everyone. Some can stumble in using technology or can become overwhelmed by
the multitude of functions. My approach has been to be patient with technology
and explore as much as I can to see what it can offer and how this can have a
positive impact on our support for children in schools.
In my day-to-day role, I have delivered
support sessions using Zoom and MS Teams. I soon started enjoying that I can
share the activities, documents and dictionaries easily and that the support
sessions can become highly interactive, using some other functions, such as whiteboard
and drawing in different programmes and video and audio sharing.
In normal times, I used to work with
children on creating Cultural Presentations, which we would then co-deliver to the class. With the help of technology, the
lockdown did not stop me from doing this. Using Zoom or Teams, I was able
to help children prepare the presentation and then we were able to co-deliver
the presentation, using one of the online platforms. The PowerPoint
presentations delivered on Zoom were very interactive and highly successful. Indeed,
this approach can even work better for some children with EAL, who are shy to
speak in front of the class, but can gain confidence if they deliver it online.
In one situation, a year 3 pupil and I were sitting together in a room adjacent
to the classroom. Her classmates could see us through the window and could wave
to us. Sharing videos and songs was also possible. Sometimes, the WiFi
connection or the phone signal in school (if using 3G or 4G) can become a
problem and the delivery can suffer because of that, but these are minor issues.
There are many ups and downs of using
technology, but to me this was a fantastic solution for continuing our support
during lockdown and, indeed, into the future. I’ve certainly learnt that there
is more good in technology than bad!
Find out more about the support available from our team of Bilingual Assistants on our website here.
In this blog, Chris Pim, Hampshire EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor, explores how technology can be used to support learners of EAL.
Technology, when used appropriately, can enhance any pupil’s learning experience. However, technological solutions have been shown to have relatively small effect sizes in many circumstances (Hattie 2017); when used in the wrong situation, technology may even interfere with learning. It is apparent that effective use of technology is “dependent on context and predicated on the notion that what works in one context may not be entirely replicable in another” (Pim, 2013). This is especially true where practitioners have the additional consideration of matching provision to the proficiency in English of their target EAL pupils.
the perspective of learning EAL, since acquisition of English should not be the
totality of a pupil’s learning journey, technology just used to ‘teach English’, particularly where it supplants quality mainstream provision,
is best avoided. Instead, the power of technology lies in the potential for
enhancing pupils’ wider learning; enhancing curriculum access, utilising proficiency in heritage
languages, providing flexible opportunities for demonstrating learning and
supporting the development of English across the curriculum.
technology to provide pupils with greater access to the curriculum is an
obvious starting point. In order to make learning more explicit for EAL
learners, to make the messages more abundant (Gibbons 2008), practitioners need
to infuse their lessons with multimedia. Images, infographics, videos,
podcasts, animations all enhance meaning and are essential to overcome the
additional linguistic and cultural challenges EAL learners experience, whether
UK born or recently arrived from abroad.
translation tools, either for ad-hoc communication or more academic purposes,
is another useful strategy. These tools have become extremely powerful,
although they still have their limitations (Pim, 2018). There are many
solutions available – these range between dedicated digital devices like ECTACO products, through
text-based online translation tools, to apps like SayHi that use voice
recognition and the power of neural networking to provide instant translations,
read aloud in authentic, synthesised speech. The camera on a portable device
can be used through Google Translate to render real-time on-screen
translation as well. Whilst not good enough for formal translation, these tools
are genuinely useful for two-way conversations, mediated by both parties. With
care, they can be used by practitioners to prepare dual-language glossaries and
to communicate simple ideas in text. Pupils literate in first language, with
guidance, will find them immensely useful to facilitate access to the
curriculum and even as a means of providing support with translating their
writing from first language into English.
are many digital resources available to support pupils’ maintenance and development of heritage languages.
Companies like Mantra Lingua have had a long association with the
EAL field through their audio-enabled, multilanguage books and learning charts.
Many schools will already be aware of Mantra’s TalkingPEN technology which provides a natural
link between touch, print and sound to bring interactive learning to the user.
Their Kitabu library is also an efficient delivery platform for their
bilingual e-books. There are plenty of free e-books available in different
languages on the web, but as always with online materials, their provenance
will need to be checked. The International Children’s Digital Library is an excellent source of
free texts that can be filtered in several different ways e.g. by age category
The importance of developing listening and speaking skills should not be underestimated, whether children are at an early stage of learning EAL or more advanced learners. EAL learners will benefit from structured approaches to develop such skills in English, building on practitioners’ understanding that children are not blank slates and carry relevant skills from their own heritage languages (Coles, Flynn & Pim n.d.).
is a perfect opportunity for all children, whether learning EAL or not, to
practise their oral skills for authentic purposes; technology can both
facilitate the process as well as enable recording and playback. Children can
use first language, or a combination of languages alongside English. Using
tablet devices and an app like Puppet Pals HD, pupils can work
independently - or collaboratively - to create digital stories from
backgrounds, moving characters and a recorded narration that is eventually
bound up into a movie clip. Software like Crazy Talk, Morfo and Voki
allow shy children to develop oral confidence by enabling them to make a
private recording and then attach it to an animated ‘avatar’ such as their
face, an animal or even an inanimate object.
can also help pupils to create and self-publish stories with digital elements. Book
Creator, available on most platforms, enables a user to produce e-books
from text, drawings, images, audio and video. Pupils can be encouraged to write
independently or collaboratively, using Storybird. This free online
tool, accessible from school or home, provides glorious imagery to stimulate
creative writing in any language. Mantra Lingua offers another solution
in the form of recordable sticky labels, TalkingPENs and a range of software for
producing audio-enabled stories.
ability to record and playback speech allows children to practise
pronunciation, rehearse vocabulary and play around with chunks of language in
preparation for further tasks. There are numerous portable solutions around (Talking
Products and TTS-Group) such as talking tins, pegs, cards and photo
albums. The latter devices are especially useful for combining text, imagery
and artefacts with recorded speech as a talk-for-writing approach.
link between understanding text and wider educational attainment has resonance
for learning EAL, since pupils’ reading skills are reportedly on average a year behind monolingual peers
(Smith 2016). Whatever approaches schools take to address this discrepancy,
practitioners need to bear in mind that learning to read is just one element
woven into a rich tapestry that results in a pupil’s lifelong passion for reading. It is important that
teaching builds upon pupils’ existing reading proficiencies in other languages, that practitioners use
age-appropriate texts and capitalise on pupils’ interests through presentation
of a diverse mix of texts.
are some genuinely useful resources and technologies for enabling pupils to
access texts which might ordinarily be beyond them. It is worth looking online
for translated and abridged versions of typical class and course readers. Many
book schemes provide texts with an audio CD such as Oxford and Cambridge graded
readers. Providing an audio accompaniment for an associated text like
this is a particularly useful technique. E-books offer another option,
although practitioners should bear in mind that some pupils may not
particularly like them, rather preferring to read an actual book. However,
along with high quality audio, e-books do provide additional features such as
contextualised glossaries. Print can be read aloud from paper-based sources
through OCR scanning technology using a device like C-Pen; different
versions of C-Pen offer additional functionality such as in-built
dictionaries and translation capability. Digital text can easily be read
aloud from the screen on computers and mobile devices using integrated
text-to-speech software. It’s also possible to look up word meanings and translation equivalents
directly using online resources that interface with a user’s digital reader of choice. Finally, it is worth
considering how to ensure that online texts are as accessible as possible to
emergent readers; for example, finding appropriate sources that present
information simply. There are websites like Kidrex, which assist web-safe
refined searching, that do exactly that. Also consider use of Simple English
Wikipedia for older learners.
well established that children learning EAL need opportunities for explicit teaching
and learning of new vocabulary across the curriculum (DfES 2006). Typically,
pupils learning EAL have smaller vocabularies in English compared with non-EAL
peers, a factor that has been shown, for example, to be an important predictor
of reading comprehension Murphy (2015). There are numerous ICT-based tools
available for reinforcing knowledge of vocabulary (in all its forms).
Dual-language glossaries, supported visually, are easy to create using Widgit,
something that may be useful to L1 literate pupils, as well as their parents. Quiz-based
vocabularies can be created and/or sourced online from pre-built versions, via Quizlet.
Plickers is a free polling tool suitable for whole class vocabulary
building activities. Other games can be made using tools like Osric’s Bingo
Card Generator as well as a wide variety of word-definition matching activities using Formulator
Word clustering tools like WordArt.com help learners focus on topic
words, as well as encouraging inference around the text-type and genre the
words have been drawn from.
One of the biggest challenges for EAL learners is to
convert their thinking and talking into writing. Some children will be ready
for sustained free writing, whilst others may be limited to composing smaller
chunks of text within digital scaffolds. They may choose to write in English,
first language or a combination. It is worth mentioning that computers and
mobile devices need to be set up specifically to enable children to interface
voice and keyboard input to search, translate and write digitally in a
preferred language other than English.
Emergent writers benefit from technologies that enable
them to convey their ideas through multimedia elements and snippets of text,
rather than full prose. Cartoon makers like Comic Life provide a
framework in which to drop imagery, either from a device’s camera or an
external file, alongside the use of text holding areas like speech bubbles and
legends. An app like iMovie can be used across the curriculum to help
pupils demonstrate learning in creative ways. Within iMovie, the Trailer
feature offers different storyboard templates across a range of genres,
encouraging pupils to edit default text with their own short, snappy version to
accompany the visuals. Adobe Spark Video is another tool for
producing annotated movies. This app allows a user to record an audio narration
and build up a storyboard using copyright-free imagery, but interestingly, once
again, deliberately constrains writing to short sentences.
There are many digital writing tools available for
more cohesive writers. These take the form of dedicated supportive word
processors such as Book Creator and Clicker Docs as well as plugin
software keyboards like Texthelp’s read&write and Grammarly. Traditional
supports in digital writing tools like spelling and grammar checks will of
course be useful, but only when children are explicitly taught the conventions
of red and green underlining. Integrated thesauri will also help those pupils
with a strong enough lexical knowledge to make sensible choices between
synonyms. Newer features like predictive text assist pupils with word choice,
both within and between words. They can also hear back what they have written
via text-to-speech synthesis, a feature which can help some users spot their
errors more easily. A user can also shortcut typing via the speech-to-text
listening capability of the operating system; an easy way for pupils who are not
confident in their use of keyboards to render digital text through natural
speech. Clicker Docs has an additional feature where topic word banks
can be imported from online repositories, enabling easy access to
context-related subject glossaries.
To conclude, it is worth considering what networking
tools are available for busy practitioners to keep up to date and access
additional guidance from the wider community of EAL professionals. One idea is
to register for the EAL-Bilingual Google group. Following organisations
and professionals on Twitter and tweeting around the #EAL hashtag is
another great idea. Curating apps like Pinterest and Pearltrees
offer a cornucopia of relevant content when searched for relevant terms such as
a ‘EAL’ and ‘ELL’. Finally, subscribing to relevant blogs is a useful way to
keep up to date with current thinking.
This blog first appeared in the EAL Journal, Spring 2020.
Coles S., Flynn, N. & Pim,
C. EAL MESHGuide. Accessed 2.1.20
Department for Education and
Skills (DfES) (2006) Excellence and Enjoyment: learning and teaching for
bilingual children in the primary years. Unit 2 Creating the learning
culture: making it work in the classroom. London DfES.
Gibbons, P. (2008). Challenging
pedagogies: More than just good practice? NALDIC Quarterly, 6(2), 4-14.
Hattie, J. (2017). Backup of Hattie’s Ranking list
of 256 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement
Murphy, V. (2015) Assessing
vocabulary knowledge in learners with EAL: What’s in a word?
Pim, C. (2013) Emerging technologies, emerging minds:
digital innovations within the primary sector. In G. Motteram (Ed.), Innovations
in learning technologies for English language learning (pp. 17-42). London. British Council.
C. (2018, June 12). Aren’t digital translation tools only useful for keywords? [Blog post].
Retrieved from: https://emtas.hias.hants.gov.uk/blog/index.php?entryid=18
N. (2016, September 26). Reading comprehension is the key to accessing the
curriculum. [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://naldic.org.uk/httpsealjournal-org20160927reading-comprehension-is-the-key-to-accessing-the-curriculum
EAL-Bilingual Google group - https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/eal-bilingual
related Blogs: https://naldic.org.uk/professional-learning-cpd/links/blogs-news-resources
Mantra Lingua - https://uk.mantralingua.com
Talking Products - https://www.talkingproducts.com/educational-resources.html
Scanning Pens - http://www.dictionarypen.com
The International Children’s Digital Library - http://en.childrenslibrary.org
Formulator Tarsia - http://www.mmlsoft.com/index.php/products/tarsia
Osric’s Bingo card Generator - https://osric.com/bingo-card-generator
Plickers - https://get.plickers.com
WordArt.com - https://wordart.com/
Crazy Talk - https://www.reallusion.com/crazytalk
Voki - https://www.voki.com
Comic Life - https://plasq.com
Storybird - https://storybird.com
Grammarly - https://www.grammarly.com
Book Creator - https://bookcreator.com
Read&Write - https://www.texthelp.com/en-gb/products/read-write