Supporting Multilingual Learners in the Early Years : Many Languages - Many Children book cover
1st Edition

Supporting Multilingual Learners in the Early Years
Many Languages - Many Children

ISBN 9780415438018
Published January 9, 2008 by Routledge
160 Pages

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Book Description

Shortlisted for the Nasen Book that supports SEN and Disability Issues Award 2008

Are children who are exposed to more than one language from birth at an advantage or a disadvantage when starting school?

Supporting Multilingual Learners in the Early Years examines the theoretical, ideological and practical issues involved in the education of children speaking two or more languages coming to settings which are predominantly monolingual. The book examines current research and thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of being multilingual and tackles complex topics such as:

  • what being multilingual implies in terms of prior learning and why this matters in education
  • the importance of respect for diversity and encouraging children to be proud of their language and culture
  • practical ways to help young children acquire English
  • ways of working with parents who themselves have little or no English
  • the differences and difficulties involved in a child learning an additional language so early on in their lives
  • strategies for exploring the learning of multilingual learners and a review of the resources and activities that could help.

Sandra Smidt views multilingualism as a cognitive advantage and shows how Early Years practitioners can use interactive styles of learning to focus on the benefit that the many cultures and languages in the classroom can bring to children’s learning and development.

Written in a highly accessible tone, this book offers practitioners a mix of practical case studies and examples in which theory is embedded and its importance explained. Students of early childhood education will also appreciate the author's carefully structured approach to the topic, as she includes summary boxes, glossaries and points for reflection in each chapter.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Multilingualism  2. Language at Home and Beyond  3. Language and Identity  4. Learning a Language: Learning Another  5. Effective Classrooms or Settings for Bilingual Children: The Survival of First Language  6. Effective Classrooms for Bilingual Learners: Teaching English as an Additional Language  7. Assessing Bilingual Learners  8. Working with the Parents of Bilingual Children  9. Language and Thought  Endnote: Bilingual Education: Why Should we Bother?

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Sandra Smidt was formerly Principal Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of East London. She is now an educational consultant, working with the University of East London. Sandra’s other books available from Routledge are A Guide to Early Years Practice (third edition, 2007); The Developing Child in the Twenty-First Century; and Observing, Assessing and Planning for Children in The Early Years: A Reader.


'By looking in depth at the acquisition of language the book provides an insightful and interesting read for all practitioners, not just those directly concerned with supporting multilingual children.' - Early Years Update