Topic 3.1 - Multilingual language development (ESR 11)

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Topic 3.1, Multilingual language development, is hosted at the University of Leeds and supervised by Ruth Swanwick and Edward Killan.

This task investigates the linguistic development and assessment of multilingual children with hearing impairment (HI) and cochlear implant (CI), and examines implications for educational and clinical support and intervention. This enquiry is focused on children of newly arrived, migrant and Roma families as well as the established British Asian population where the high prevalence of HI has significant implications for education, health, and social participation. The increased cultural and linguistic pluralism among children with HI and their families in the European context is explained by historic and changing patterns of migration. We hypothesise that children fitted with a CI from these multilingual contexts are increasingly exposed to, and use, two or more spoken languages in their daily lives. However, practitioners lack knowledge and skills for the identification and support of this diversity (Swanwick et al 2016). This vulnerable group of learners is thus at risk of failing in school and encountering subsequent problems relating to health, social participation, and employment. We argue that the language and learning needs of multilingual children/young people need addressing as early as possible and that this can most effectively be done using an investigative approach that takes into account the full ecology of the child’s life and a multi professional (education and health) perspective (Swanwick et al 2014).

This research project will provide an overview of severe-profound CI users’ exposure to and use of multiple languages in their daily lives and the different contexts for the multilingual communication of children with HI. Descriptions of individual profiles will include audiological profiles, technologies in use, and (sign and spoken) language biographies and repertoires.

Part of the research for this topic will take place at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Yorkshire Auditory Implant Centre and at the Centre Comprendre et Parler. The first secondment will allow the early stage researcher (ESR) to take an ecological approach to examine the language repertoires and communication practices in a cohort of families where more than one spoken and/or sign language are in use in the home. The second secondment will enable the ESR to widen the scope of the case studies in terms of the different contexts for multilingualism and range of skills and competencies and examine trial comparable assessment tools and protocols with a view to developing approaches to assessment that can be transported to other European contexts.

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