Quantifying bilingualism

“How bilingual are the children in my classroom?” “How much experience of English have they had over their lifetime?” “From what point can I expect this EAL child to have caught up with her peers in terms of English proficiency?”

Children with English as an Additional Language can present very different profiles, and their needs and potential require a more fine-grained approach than a binary EAL / non-EAL categorisation.

The Quantifying Bilingual Experience project brings together an international team of researchers and practitioners to establish a consensus regarding what aspects of the multilingual language experience we need to measure in school settings and for what purpose.  This will inform the creation of user-friendly, online questionnaires (and their associated back-end calculators) to return measures of current and cumulative language experience in real time. Exploiting cutting-edge statistical techniques, we will also develop an objective method to identify early those bilingual children in need of support with their school language, helping practitioners estimate when a child who speaks a different language at home can be expected to have “caught up” with their monolingual peers.

The Q-BEx project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council from October 2019 to September 2022. It is led by Professor Cecile De Cat (University of Leeds).

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