module specification

SE5055 - Communicating in Multi-lingual contexts (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Communicating in Multi-lingual contexts
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
75 hours Guided independent study
30 hours Placement / study abroad
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   A report (3,000 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester LMET Distance Learning Not applicable Not applicable
Autumn semester North Tuesday Morning
Autumn semester North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module aims to develop the students’ understanding of the theoretical and the practical aspects of providing for babies’ and young children’s communication and linguistic development. It encourages students to examine and debate fundamental issues relating to communicating in a multi-lingual environment and considers the importance of cultural and social aspects as part of the process.  The relationship between symbolic representation and language learning is explored.

Prior learning requirements

It is expected that students will be in a work placement providing for children in the birth to six age range for a minimum of 2 hours each week throughout the module, normally in a group setting.

Module aims

This core module addresses a key aspect of professional knowledge in the early years field and aims to enable students to:
• Study current research and theories of language acquisition and early communication
• Understand first and subsequent language acquisition and examine important current debates about multilingualism and cultural identity
• Establish the connection between language, symbolic representation and early learning
• Critically consider the relationship between effective early years practice and provision and multilingualism.


There will be an examination of first and subsequent language acquisition and the implications of this for practice.  The module will consider current methods of describing and assessing children’s communicative competence and will explore the relationship between the early years’ curriculum and the development of communication, language and symbolic representation.  Weekly tasks will support taught sessions by focusing on aspects of the communication strategies used by children from birth to six years of age and the role of the practitioner. A critical evaluation of research into multilingualism will highlight its implications for the care and education of young children; including the importance of working in partnership with families.  The relationship between policy and guidance on early language development and practice will also be considered.

Learning and teaching

For taught course students theoretical input will be through lectures and seminars. Distance Learning students will receive the same theoretical input through bespoke on-line module materials with access to an allocated tutor who is available to support them either face-to-face, by e-mail or by telephone. All students will benefit from a blended learning approach through the use of WebLearn for supplementary materials, links to E-books, on-line discussions and self assessment exercises such as quizzes and reflective tasks.

Reflection and discussion are key to teaching for all students – for taught students this will be in the context of tutor-led sessions while for distance learning students reflection will be promoted by the exercises incorporated into the web-based materials.  For all students experiential learning promotes their growing ability to act as a reflective practitioner.

Teaching and learning strategies and methods also focus on workplace skills and professionalism. All students undertake and reflect on observations in the workplace and weekly tasks and reflective exercises support increased knowledge and understanding. Observations, action research, work-related tasks and the use of development planning tools support the growth of practitioners’ professional competence. 

The development of transferable skills in presenting evidence, arguments and points of view to a range of audiences, through a range of media, including the use of ICT also supports individual learning.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module students should be able to:
1. Describe, analyse and constructively critique current research and theories of language acquisition and communication in children from birth to six years old
2. Identify and discuss the ways in which children may be supported in the development of their first language whilst acquiring English
3. Articulate the role of the family, practitioners, other adults and peers in the communication, linguistic and representational competence of babies and young children.
4. Plan, execute and evaluate  practice and provision that effectively addresses linguistic and symbolic diversity

Assessment strategy

Students from both taught and distance learning modes are required to make a range of observations of children being supported in their use of language and communication within the setting. Students will receive written tutor formative feedback on one observation. All students will have the opportunity for self assessment and ongoing reflection on their learning through on-line quizzes and short answer questions.

Students will be able to demonstrate they have met the learning outcomes through a report based on a project in which students develop an area of their practice in relation to theories and research on communication, language and multilingualism.

All students for both taught and distance learning modes will be invited to attend a face to face tutorial to discuss their summative assessment in advance of submission deadlines and to receive detailed formative feedback.  Where a personal meeting is not possible, (for example, students living abroad and studying in distance learning mode) this will take place by telephone or e-mail.  Students will receive detailed formative written feedback following these tutorials.

All students will receive written feedback against all learning outcomes following the publication of marks. This will be the most comprehensive in cases of failure, where this will support learning for reassessment.


Baker, C. (2006) Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 4th Edition Clevedon. Multilingual matters Ltd.
Datta, M. and Pomphrey, C. (2004) A world of languages. Developing children’s love of languages. London. CILT. Ch 1
Datta, M. (2007) Bilinguality and Literacy: Principles and Practice. London: Continuum
Flynn, N. (2008) ‘Living in two worlds: the language and literacy development of young bilinguals’ Ch 2 in Marsh, J. and Hallet, E. (2008) Desirable Literacies. Approaches to Language and Literacy in the Early Years. London. Sage.
Goldschmeid, E., Selleck, D. (1996) Communication Between Babies in their First year, London: NCB
Levey, S and Polirstok, S. (2011) Language Development: Understanding Language Diversity in the Classroom. London: Sage
Marsh, J. and Hallet, E. (eds.) (1999) Desirable Literacies: Approaches to Language and Literacy in the Early Years London: Paul Chapman Publishing
Siraj-Blatchford, I & Clarke P (2000) Supporting Identity, Diversity and Language in the Early Years, Buckingham:  Open University Press
Wells, G. (1986) The Meaning Makers: Children Learning through Language and Using Language to Learn London: Hodder and Stoughton
Whitehead, M. (2004) Language and Literacy in the Early Years  (3rd edition) London: Sage

Cable, C., Eyers, I. Collins, J. (2006) ‘Bilingualism and inclusion: more than just rhetoric?’ Volume 21 Issue 3, Pages 129 – 134
Iverson, J M and  Goldin-Meadow, S. (2005) Gesture Paves the Way for Language Development. Psychological Science May 2005 vol. 16 no. 5 367-371

Web sites:
DCSF (2007) Supporting Children Learning English as an Additional Language: Guidance for Practitioners in the Early Years Foundation Stage
DCSF (2010) Every Child a Talker: Guidance for Consultants and Early Language Lead Practitioners (Third instalment) Nottingham DCSF
National literacy trust. Early language development: a review of the evidence for birth to age three.