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Working with multilingual children in the Early Years


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​Interesting reading . Having worked with a variety of multilingual children over the years (currently according to tapestry now running at 46%!) I have some strong views about what works and doesn't which may not always fit in to the theoretical model.

I agree completely on the silent period...it does vary per child but it isn't unusual to get this for up to 6 months. We run a CFS setting where areas are split in to small 'rooms' in order to support communication this works well and results in most children talking regularly with others.

We support home language at home and do what we can in the setting but I have found over the years that 'mixing' language results in confusion and an inability to switch language quickly and efficiently. We have one common language in the setting which is English ..the children know this and their brain switches as they enter the building...if I try to speak their home language or ask them to translate they find it really tricky and usually refuse, often not understanding what I am asking them to do as their brain is in 'English' mode. They don't appear to realise it is different!

We could not have staff to support all 16 languages in the setting but we do have the ability to translate if needed and I have translation lists which we often use to support settling.

We do however question our parents thoroughly about the child at home and their language abilities...if they speak one language fluently they'll be able to do 2 if they are struggling in 1 then another is going to cause problems.

I do find 'latin language based children tend to pick up English quicker than others ...an area of research needed maybe?

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