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MARCs Presentation: Nurturing Australia's little multilingual minds, 9 Mar

Learning, Paola Escudero, Western Sydney University

Date: 5 March 2021

Presentation: Nurturing Australia's little multilingual minds: home and foreign language extension program for early childhood

Presenters: Paola Escudero, Gloria Pino Escobar and Eline Smit, Western Sydney Unviersity

When: 9 Mar 2021 11am-12pm AEDT

Where: online


Research has shown the many benefits of children’s home language maintenance, including higher academic performance and enhanced social cognition. However, the reality of many multilingual families is little or no support for their home language outside of their homes, with many families seeing their children’s shift to English (or the majority language) from early childhood. In this talk, we introduce our Little Multilingual Minds (LMM) program, which aims at supporting and extending home language maintenance and foreign language learning during the early, formative years, using evidence-based principles, structure and guidelines. It operates in close partnership with established early childhood settings, such as daycare centres, preschools, playgroups, or primary schools.

Our tailor-made approach implies in-depth knowledge of the setting’s language use and children’s cognitive and linguistic skills. Here, we focus on this pre-LMM assessment for our first partner, a bilingual preschool in Sydney. We report on our probabilistic measure of language use in the setting and our evaluation of children’s abilities. After this diagnostic assessment, we suggest our tailor-made approach for home-language support and extension at this specific setting. We conclude by a) mentioning our potential new partners, and b) highlighting how our research improves multilingual families’ lives in Australia and overseas, fostering diversity, inclusion, cultural awareness, and the celebration of different identities.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University