Exploring learning in more than one language in the early years

 Media Release                            

The first Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) Request for Proposals (RFP) in the field of early years has been won by a team led by Associate Professor Valerie Podmore from the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland.

The Auckland-based project will study the experiences, challenges, opportunities and outcomes of early childhood education for children who learn in more than one language. University researchers will work in partnership with a Māori language/bilingual centre, a Samoan immersion centre, an English-medium kindergarten with families who speak Pasifika languages and Hindi and an English-medium centre with families who speak a wide range of Asian and Pasifika languages. 

The project aims to better understand children’s experiences with language and culture in order to foster more authentic learning experiences in early childhood centres. It also hopes to enhance teacher–parent partnerships and to shed light on the opportunities and challenges experienced by children who learn in more than one language.

The research team says there are gaps in in-depth knowledge about learning experiences and outcomes for children who are learning in more than one language in their early childhood education and the effects of this experience on short- and longer-term educational outcomes. It hopes to provide fresh insights for teachers, researchers and communities. Learners in New Zealand are increasingly likely to speak more than one language and the trend is most evident in the Auckland region.

This is the first year TLRI has issued RFPs, in addition to its usual funding round for proposals. RFPs were issued in the early years and in tertiary education.