Growing up in more than one language: Language policies in schools and at home for migrant children
In this inaugural lecture, Professor Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen examines the impact of migration and policy on children’s language and academic development.
Transnational migration has in recent years not only intensified encounters between different traditions and sociocultural values, it has also had a significant impact on children’s language and academic development. This lecture focuses on language policies in schools and at home and outlines the linguistic and educational environments that are conducive to the social and academic development of children with more than one language.
While educational policies for supporting learners of English as an Additional Language (EAL) have been implemented in the UK, neither sense-making of the policies nor actual pedagogical practices in the classroom provide strong evidence that these children’s multilingual development is being adequately supported. Children’s home language is still considered an obstacle for integration into mainstream schools and for academic development.
Although multilingualism provides both socioeconomic gains and cognitive advantages, language policy at the family level tends to be strongly influenced by the educational policy. Examining language policies at both school and family levels will have important implications for multilingual children’s social and academic well-being as well as for their cultural and linguistic heritage.