Free online Zoom Webinar taking place on Thursday 23 June from 4.30 pm – 6.30 pm. This mini conference focuses on the cognitive, linguistic and social advantages of being a multilingual learner. It showcases international best practice from experts in the field across the phases.


Professor Jim Cummins – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Jim Cummins is a Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. His research focuses on literacy development in educational contexts characterised by linguistic diversity. In numerous articles and books, he has explored the nature of language proficiency and its relationship to literacy development with particular emphasis on the intersections of societal power relations, teacher-student identity negotiation, and literacy attainment. Over the past 25 years, his major focus has been on working actively with teachers to identify ways of increasing the literacy engagement and academic success of learners in multilingual school contexts.

Multilingualism and Learning: Developing Whole-School Policies to Promote Language and Literacy Development

The presentation will examine causes of underachievement among multilingual learners and the strategies to address these factors. Potential causes go beyond simply the challenges of acquiring the language of instruction. In addition to the challenges of developing conversational and academic skills in English, many multilingual learners are also experiencing the effects of both social disadvantage and discrimination in the wider society. The presentation will discuss the research evidence relating to these factors and describe strategies to reverse patterns of underachievement.

Dr Rose Drury – Early Years Education Consultant and Honorary Associate at The Open University

Rose Drury is an Early Years Education Consultant and Honorary Associate at The Open University. She has over 20 years of experience working with undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students and with practitioners in early years settings. She is frequently asked to speak at conferences on supporting multilingualism in the early years because of her recognised expertise in the field and she has published a book ‘Young bilingual learners at home and at school’ (Trentham). She has also worked with parent groups in a variety of settings.

Young Bilingual Learners at Home and at School

Drawing on data from two research studies in multilingual early years settings, Rose’s presentation aims to uncover some of the tensions in current mainstream practice for teachers of young bilingual children. The study of bilingual children as they begin nursery reveals ways in which the children learn the language required for early schooling and how they take control of their own learning at home. ‘A day in a life of a bilingual practitioner’ explores how two bilingual practitioners in English early years settings support the language learning of bilingual children and highlight the conflict between encouraging mother tongue development while at the same time ensuring that all children reach a ‘Good Level of Development’ in English. While young bilingual children and bilingual practitioners have the potential to draw on their ‘funds of knowledge’, the reality in these classrooms does not allow them to support bilingual learning. The research studies conclude that bilingual children’s, parents’ and practitioners’ untapped ‘funds of knowledge’ need to be opened up in order to inform a new bilingual pedagogy in the early years.


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