module specification

SE5055 - Communicating in Multi-lingual contexts (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Communicating in Multi-lingual contexts
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
75 hours Guided independent study
9 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
30 hours Placement / study abroad
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   A report (3,000 words) in which students evaluate an area of their practice in relation to theories and research on comm
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This 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.

Prior learning requirements

Enhanced DBS
Students are expected to undertake 60 hours work placement providing for children in the birth to six age range as part of this module, normally in a group setting.


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. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

For taught course students theoretical input will be through lectures and seminars. Online 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 online as well as by e-mail or by telephone.

All students will benefit from a blended learning approach through the use of Web Learn 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.

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. Evaluate current debates about multilingualism with reference to relevant research.   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


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.
Barron (2009), Illegitimate participation? A group of young minority ethnic children’s experience of early childhood education, Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 17:3, 341-354
Chumak-Horbatsch, R. (2012) Linguistically appropriate practice: A guide for working with young immigrant children, Ontorio: University of Toronto Press
Issa, T. and Hatt, A. (2013) Language culture and identity in the early years, London: Bloomsbury
Kelly, C. (2010) Hidden worlds: young children learning literacy in multilingual contexts, Staffordshire: Trentham Books.
Marsh, J. and Larson, J. (ed) (2013) The SAGE handbook of Early Childhood Literacy, London: SAGE
Safford, K and Drury, R. (2013) The ‘problem’ of bilingual children in educational settings: policy and research in England, Language and Education, 21:1, 70-81