Growing Up Bilingual 3

This 3-part BPS-funded series drew to a close with a final seminar at the University of Roehampton. After the June rail strikes derailed our original date/plans, we were fortunately still able to be joined by some of our previous presenters, as well as various new contributors – practitioners in particular – that we are pleased to have reached out to.

The day was primarily an interactive workshop for roundtables and split-group discussions aiming for ‘synergies’ (per series title) and partnership, but we were privileged to have our three key speakers with informative and inspiring talks: Francesco Goglia’s (University of Exeter) on the onward migration and linguistic repertoires of Italian-speakers to the UK with a third country heritage language/culture; my colleague Roehampton’s RKE Cultures lead Melissa Jogie’s on heritage culture/language, leadership and partnerships; Roberto Filippi’s (UCL) intro to Bilingualism Matters as its London branch co-founder/director.

Other contributors/discussants on the day include: [academics] Anthony Thorpe, Kyara Rojas-Bustos, Cecelia Essau (Roehampton), Froso Aygyri (UCL), Andrew Ravenscroft (UEL), Vally Lytra (Goldsmiths), Deirdre Birtles (Royal Holloway); [practitioners] Liz Black (Association for Language Learning/ALL), Ruth Durant (Richmond EAL Friendship Centre), Krizstina Fogorasi (NALDIC, South London regional interest group), Katherine Solomon (Bell Foundation), Sofia Gardini (Scuola di Sofia), and GUB’s partner Martin Pinder (Newham Partnership for Complementary Education).

Our discussions surrounded the key questions: what have we learnt, what can we still learn, and how can we apply what we know/learn – about growing up bilingual. Initial partnership/ theme developments involved drawing on language-based impact case studies for further research/ knowledge exchange activities and exploring possible outlets suitable for can publish the series’ broad, eclectic coverage. Some of those conversations spilled over to an after-event dinner in Barnes.

We’ve found these were simply emerging ‘synergies’ though a few strands of work have already begun: planning a special issue, a team of us speaking at The Language Show (to blog about that!), and we are very fortunate to have the fund for a focused ‘follow-on’ workshop developing those ideas and partnerships further in September. Stay tuned.

An edited recording of the talks and presentations is linked here.

BPS Growing Up Bilingual: Seminar 2, 25th February 2022 UEL – Photo-Report

After an extended period without face-to-face events due to the pandemic, the GUB group held our second BPS-funded seminar at University Square Stratford, UEL – joined by a livestreamed audience also – with talks and discussions by distinguished academics and established practitioners.

The seminar, titled ‘How may growing up bilingual impact developmental outcomes‘ had two sessions. In the first, our invited speakers Dean D’Souza (City), Roberto Filippi (UCL), Ludovica Serratrice (Reading), and Lisa-Maria Müller (Chartered College of Teaching) presented some cognitive, neurological, linguistic and socio-emotional outcomes of growing up bilingual, followed by a lively roundtable chaired by Shiri Lev-Ari (Royal Holloway). The coverage and discussions included how, rather than conceiving bilingual development as a simple broad ‘advantage’ (or even disadvantage as a still fairly common misconception), it would be more useful to examine specific effects from bilingual language acquisition, groups that it can benefit the most, and how to work with practitioners to facilitate this development.

The second session explored the contexts and factors that influence bilingual children’s outcomes, with talks given by Katherine Solomon (Bell Foundation), Luljeta Nuzi (Sphresa programme), Vally Lytra (Goldsmiths), before we shared findings from the GUB project. The roundtable, chaired by Leena Robertson (Middlesex), encouraged us to consider the contextual, social and cultural features of the language community as its funds of knowledge. This has potential for mapping to the outcomes covered in the first session to co-create further knowledge with practice implications.

We were privileged to be able to view the research of the academic speakers’ PhD supervisees (Xuran Han, Debra Page, Chris Pelz, Thomas Quehl, Sara Shahwan and Cátia Verguete) in posters during the socials/ break and buffet. Clearly, the conversations are far from over some of which will hopefully carry over to the final seminar in the summer at Roehampton – so, more to follow on this series.

The talks and posters are listed below – we thank all the invited speakers and presenters who made this event truly engaging:


Dean D’Souza (City) Early adaptations to bilingual environments

Roberto Filippi (UCL) Getting the message right on bilingualisam and cognitive development

Ludovica Serratrice (Reading) What predicts story comprehension in bilingual children?

Lisa-Maria Müller (Chartered College of Teaching) Multilingualism in the family and child wellbeing: Insights from a scoping review

Shiri Lev-Ari (Royal Holloway) as Chair of roundtable

Katherine Solomon (Bell Foundation) Promoting the learning and  achievement of pupils who use EAL

Luljeta Nuzi (Sphresa Programme)  “Why – Pȅrse“?

Vally Lytra (Goldsmiths) Nurturing language and culture learning: orientation to language pedagogy

Virginia Lam (Roehampton), Layal Husain (UEL) Growing up bilingual: Findings from the GUB project

Leena Robertson (Middlesex) as Chair of roundtable


Xuran Han (UCL) The effects of code-switching and L2 proficiency on cognitive control in habitual and manipulated language use conditions 

Xuran Han (UCL)  Facilitatory effects of interactional contexts on bilingual’s cognitive control: evidence from the flanker task

Debra Page (Reading) The Young Interpreter Scheme: Staff experiences of participation

Christopher Pelz (UCL) Bilingualism and executive functioning in individuals diagnosed with ADHD: A systematic review 

Thomas Quehl (Goldsmiths) Spaces for development – teacher agency in multilingual pedagogies: Insights from primary school classrooms

Sara Shahwan (Goldsmiths) Multilingual poetry and ecological identity: A case study of Arabic-speaking children in Istanbul

Cátia Verguete (Goldsmiths) The Language policy cycle: (Re)creating, interpretating and appropriating Portuguese language policies in the U.K.

An edited recording of the seminar is linked here.

BPS GUB First Seminar – Report and Recording

How Do Bilingual Children Acquire and Maintain their Languages? [5th November 2021, Online]

It was a well-attended, stimulating and promising affair, thanks to our invited speakers and participants. A report is now online here (will be available in the next print edition) in The Psychologist.

Major thank yous to our speakers, both academics and practitioners: keynote talk – Antonella Sorace (Edinburgh; Bilingualism Matters founder/director); Caroline Floccia (prof of Developmental Psychology Plymouth); Cate Hamilton (Babel Babies founder; PhD candidate at Oxford); Meesha Warmington (senior lecturer of Educational Psychology, Sheffield University); Eowyn Crisfield (education consultant; lecturer TESOL, Oxford Brookes); Hamish Chalmers (director of Applied Linguistics and L2 acquisition, Oxford); and the lively final panel chaired by my Roehampton colleague Eva Eppler (reader in Linguistics).

A recording can be found here. So, onwards and upwards, let’s look forward to the second seminar – planned for the week beginning 21st February 2022 (International Mother Tongue Day).

New publication from GUB!

We are excited to announce the newly published (early online) paper from our Growing Up Bilingual project in the journal Language and Education. It reports the earlier (first study’s) findings about bilingual children’s social development from our sample who attend versus those do not attend complementary language schooling. Link to the paper’s web-page. Full-text of accepted manuscript available from Layal Husain.

Good news – seminars

We are pleased to announce that Virginia Lam (PI) and Layal Husain (coI) were successful in obtaining funding (circa £3k) from the British Psychological Society/ BPS‘s Research Board to run a series of 3 seminars for GUB’s ‘Growing Up Bilingual: Researcher-Practitioner Synergies‘. The series will bring together the expertise and experience of both researchers and practitioners that specialise in bilingual children and young people’s development.

The planned series:

-[November 2021, online – details tba soon] How do bilingual children acquire and maintain their languages?

-[February 2022, UEL] How may growing up bilingual impact other areas of development?

-[July 2022, Roehampton] How may we use our understanding to help bilingual children towards optimum development?

Stay tuned! Details to come soon about the first event!

Spring 2021 updates

After a long winter with schools emerging gradually from lockdown, our collaborators the NCPE and NRCSE co-organised this webinar in late March (24th) to review the challenges from the pandemic and discuss new ways of adapting to teaching. Our representative Layal presented updates from GUB (with snippets of materials here) while supplementary schools (including our partners Znaniye Russian and Tamil Sangam) shared their practices, and reps from Newham Council and Museum of London also attended.

East-West links: GUB’s PI, Virginia Lam, started her new post at Roehampton University’s Psychology department from 19th April. While she will continue supervising this project with Andrew, (when she’s settled in more) she will explore opportunities with more local schools and communities and academics for future collaboration.

Welcome back/ Happy return

Our former CfSS & ReDS-funded intern, Alex Catto, has come on-board again, this time to conduct a related line of research (which her final-year project is part of): ‘Crisis or chameleon: Identity formation and psychological adjustment of dual-heritage young people‘. This study includes linguistic and cultural adaptation of school, college and university students. She is currently funded by a British Psychological Society/ BPS award obtained by Virginia for research assistantship.