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REYLL organisers would like to thank the following sponsors who have contributed to the success of this event


  • Professor Emeritus Jim Cummins (University of Toronto)
  • Professor Iram Siraj (UCL Institute of Education, University College London)


What does the evidence on effective early learning tell us about what to research to support young multilingual learners?

Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford
UCL Institute of Education, University College London

The keynote will not come from the perspective of linguistics or narrow concerns about multilingual development. As an expert in Early Childhhod Education, Iram will explore what we know about effective practice from the evidence from research on language and young children's development. She will also draw on evidence from her own longitudinal studies and from practice in the UK and Australia to highlight a research agenda which will help us focus on the areas of greatest benefit to children who enter pre-schoola dn school with a different first language to that of the setting. In particular Iram will draw on evidence to look at the role of talk, play, intentional and relational pedagogy, the early home learning environment, motivation and the powerful role of assessment.

Multilingualism in Early Childhood Education: Research, Policy, and Pedagogy in an Era of Unprecedented Population Mobility

Professor Emeritus Jim Cummins
University of Toronto

Population mobility within Europe and between Europe and other continents has increased steadily over the past 30 years fueled by open borders within the European Union, the economic challenges precipitated by the financial crash of 2008 and beyond, and asylum seekers fleeing conflict, poverty, and/or environmental disasters. As a consequence, in most large urban centres in Europe and elsewhere, linguistic and cultural diversity is the norm in schools and pre-school settings. Unfortunately, this reality is seldom reflected in educational policies that still predominantly operate on monolingual/monocultural assumptions that either ignore linguistic diversity or pathologize associated constructs such as “multiculturalism” (e.g., Cameron, Merkel, and Sarkozy speeches in 2010/2011). This ideological orientation is also reflected in some OECD reports that have interpreted immigrant-background children’s use of their home language (L1) in interaction with their parents as a cause of later underachievement in school. These reports recommend rapid early immersion in the school language from the age of 3 not as a means of promoting bilingualism and biliteracy but as a means of eliminating the “problem” of children’s home language.
The presentation will critically examine the ways in which research on early bi/multilingualism has been interpreted by some researchers and policy-makers and propose an evidence-based framework for promoting both multilingual abilities and academic achievement among children in early childhood centres and in the primary grades of school. Within the context of this framework, pedagogical options range from various forms of bilingual and/or CLIL programs to approaches focused on expanding students’ awareness of language (l’éveil aux langues) and reinforcing pride and proficiency in their home languages (e.g., Chumak-Horbatch’s [2012] linguistically appropriate practice).