BME/EAL Further Reading

We hope you find these suggestions for further reading helpful.  We have provided links where appropriate, but in many cases a subscription will be required to access a particular research article.  Where an article is available without charge on another website, we have included a link to that for your information.  In the case of subscription articles, we do not recommend any particular provider and suggest that you use the information provided below to help you identify the most appropriate research source for you.

Young, S. Crescent moon and star: Working towards intercultural approaches in early childhood music education. A study in Rosemary Nursery, Bristol.

There is an increasing need for music education pedagogies that are sensitive to and serve the needs of multi-ethnic and multi-religious populations.  This article reports on an interesting project that sought to develop intercultural approaches in early childhood music provided for multi-ethnic Muslim mothers and their young children. The study invited information via structured interviews from multi-ethnic Muslim mothers about their family musical activities, including beliefs and values; a second strand exploring intercultural approaches to music practice by involving the four practitioners working with those same groups of mothers in action research. The author concludes that rather than viewing music as a body of knowledge, reflexive professionalism listens to parents and children and involves them in making decisions about content and pedagogical processes.

Young, S. (2014) Visible Thinking: the Performance Arts Club. A study at St Judes, Easton, Bristol and in partnership with Rosemary Nursery, Bristol.

The project team ‘Visible Thinking’, have built up considerable experience over many years of designing and leading projects with young children, refugee and minority communities, in educational and community settings.  They draw on their own skills of music, theatre and dance and can call upon a wide range of multi-skilled musicians and artists to add additional music and organisational skills. This article documents music sessions with parents and children from diverse ethnic communities exploring a wide range of musical instruments, including some from other cultures and some of the elements involved in the sessions

Bialystok, E., Luk, G. and Kwan, E. (2005) Bilingualism, Biliteracy and Learning to Read: Interactions Among Languages and Writing Systems, Scientific Studies of Reading, 9:1, 43-61.

A significant number are bilingual at the time they begin reading, many are instructed in a language they do not speak at home, and some number of those are expected to acquire this skill in two languages. This study focused on young bilingual children (and a group of monolingual speakers of English), comparing differences in literacy tasks.  All the bilingual children used both languages daily and were learning to read in both languages. The findings showed that the children solved decoding and phonological awareness tasks, the bilinguals completed all tasks in both languages. The results showed a general increment in reading ability for all the bilingual children but a larger advantage for children learning two alphabetic systems. Similarly, bilinguals transferred literacy skills across languages only when both languages were written in the same system.

Dr Duggan, M. (2014) People at the Heart of our Processes’ – a Case Study of how an Early Years Setting promotes Community Cohesion. Ed.Doc. Bristol University.

Data for Martine Duggan’s doctoral research into community cohesion was gathered at St Werburgh’s Park Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Bristol. The findings emphasise a number of principles including the setting’s affordance as a ‘community haven’; practical measures taken ‘to disrupt parallel social segregation’;  ‘dynamic efforts to ‘connect’ with their families and community’ and ‘the importance of recognising and affirming the identities of all community members’.

Dr Duggan, M. (2014) How does St Werburgh’s Park Nursery School & Children’s Centre promote community cohesion? Poster: overview of Ed. Doc. Research. Bristol University.

Drury, R. (2007) Young Bilingual Learners at Home and at School. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.

This book examines the experiences of three four-year-old bilingual children as they begin school in three English nursery classes, providing insights into young children’s use of first languages as well as English. The book reveals some of the ways young bilingual children experience nursery as they begin to learn the language required for formal schooling, demonstrating how they take control of their own learning at home. And it asks how Samia, Maria and Nazma find their own way through nursery? What are their individual strategies for getting by and, beyond that, for learning during their first year of formal schooling? How do they syncretise home and school learning? The detailed picture that emerges fills in the detail missing from the current over-generalised view of bilingual children in the early years and provides an important new perspective to a growing body of literature on young bilinguals. It will be essential reading for all teachers, early childhood practitioners and early years policy makers operating in multilingual environments.

Kenner, C. (2004) Becoming Biliterate: Young Children Learning Different Writing Systems. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.

This publication will help early years educators to understand how children learn, in parallel, to write in more than one language. Case studies of six-year-olds growing up bilingual reveal the processes involved in becoming biliterate, showing how children s learning is supported in home and community contexts. Six children in the study were observed learning Chinese, or Arabic, or Spanish as well as English as they engaged in literacy activities at home, community language school and primary school over one year. Parents and teachers were interviewed about children’s literacy experiences in each context and their progress in learning. Particular insight into children s thinking was gained by observing peer teaching sessions in which children taught their primary school classmates how to write in Chinese, Arabic or Spanish. The research described here shows clearly that young children are flexible learners who can understand how different writing systems operate and produce symbols in different scripts, transforming their understandings to create their own ideas about how writing works.

Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2000) Supporting Identity, Diversity and Language in the Early Years. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

This publication addresses how to work with children in developing a positive disposition towards themselves regardless of their differences. By helping children to develop a strong self-identity and good self-esteem we set the foundations for positive attitudes towards others and towards learning. It focuses on all children’s learning for cultural diversity. Culture is used as a broad term to include language, ethnicity, social class and gender. Each chapter offers a clear combination of theory and practice and chapters include language acquisition and diversity, learning English as a second language, diversity and the curriculum, parents as partners, planning and evaluating for equity and diversity and resources.

Siraj-Blatchford emphasises that there is now a great deal of research evidence of racial, gender and class inequality in education. In our global society with such diverse societies, it is seen as essential that children learn social competence to respect others, regardless of difference. The implication of this is that learning is culturally and socially influenced by the context of the child’s development. This chapter addresses inequality, multiple identities, the dangers of stereotyping, diversity, learning and achievement, promoting self-esteem, social competence and involving parents. It challenges hidden assumptions that oppress particular individuals and groups.

Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Taggart , B. (2007) Effective Pre-school and Primary Education 3-11 Project (EPPE 3-11). Promoting Equality in the Early Years. A longitudinal study funded by the DfES (2003 – 2008). London: Institute of Education.

This study was commissioned by the DfES and is part of the EPPE study. It examines the impact of attendance at pre-school and primary school of variable effectiveness, comparing this to children who did not attend any pre-school – and their impact on children’s attainment in reading and mathematics aged 10. Consideration is given to a wide range of other factors including differences in the achievement gap of children from different ethnic groups, gender, EAL, differing socio-economic groups and the mother’s qualification.  The study focuses on children’s cognitive and social / behavioural development from 3 – 7 years, and changes between ages 6 – 10 years of age. Much of the difference in attainment between ethnic groups is related to differences in influential demographic factors, although there are still some low and high attaining groups.

Macrory, G. (2006) Bilingual language development: what do early years practitioners need to know? Early Years: An International Research Journal, 26:2, 159-169.

This paper considers what early years practitioners need to know about bilingual acquisition, arguing that bilingualism is not only an asset in the classroom and the community, but also an individual and family achievement that requires commitment and determination. The different contexts of bilingual acquisition are considered, along with the implication for a successful outcome. In particular, the role of the input in each of the two languages and the implications of this for early years teachers/practitioners are discussed. The study concludes that as professionals we work not just with bilingual children, but also with their families and communities. We need actively to work in partnership with parents and families, who can provide us with valuable insights into language use, their children’s progress and their own expectations. The aspirations and hopes of all families entitle them to the support and nourishment of well-informed (not simply well-meaning) professionals.

Song Kim, M.  (2014) The multi-literacy development of a young trilingual child: four leading literacy activities from birth to age six. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 22:2, 154-168.

Many young children in inner-city early years settings either speak (or have begun to write) in more than one language. This interesting qualitative study investigates one young trilingual child’s meaning- making processes and the multiple modes she uses to make meanings. The study reports the results of a combination of ethnographic observations and a longitudinal case study from birth to age six. It reveals the child’s developing multi-literacies including, (1) gesture/graphic gesture (drawings which are gesture-like in function) in free play; (2) gesture/ speech in make-believe play; (3) speech/graphic speech (drawings as representations of objects) in pretend play and (4) writing/multimodality in rule-based play. The findings reflect Vygotsky’s (1978) idea ‘that children’s literacy development occurs concurrently, interrelatedly rather than sequentially as they become more competent at using and creating semiotic tools (defined as psychological tools) through social interactions for communication and participation in a particular sociocultural context. This research has important implications for literacy in early childhood policies and practice in England and elsewhere.

Srinivasan, P. and Cruz, M. (2015) Children colouring: speaking ‘colour difference’ with Diversity dolls, Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23:1, 21-43.

Using the Persona dolls as a research tool with children from 6 – 13 years of age, this qualitative study enabled children to explore and talk about their knowledge of  ‘race’ and ‘colour’ in Australian society. The children drew on their everyday experiences with their peers. The authors conclude that racism is present in Australian schools, ‘evidenced by the children’s responses and teachers’ denial’. They found that the Personal ‘diversity’ dolls provided legitimate spaces to have difficult discussions where ‘whiteness’ could be addressed, concluding that such discussions should not be avoided if we are to makes educational settings safe and happy for all children’.

De Gioia, K. (2014) Immigrant and refugee mothers’ experiences of the transition into childcare: a case study, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 1-11.

The International Organisation for Migration for 2010 showed that there has been an increase in migration due to ‘ … growing demo- graphic disparities, the effects of environmental change, new growing economic and political dynamics, technological revolutions and social networks’, a situation that has increased dramatically during 2014-2015. This Australian study emphasises that little research has investigated immigrant and refugee families transitioning into early childhood settings. It reveals a number of challenges for families and children, highlighting a number of ways that educators can support families during transition, including issues relating to 1) communicating, 2) educator attitudes and 3) resourcing access and awareness. The author argues that the study provides an opportunity to consider implications for policy and practice for transitions of immigrant and refugee families.

Guilfoyle, N. and Mistry, M. (2013) How effective is role play in supporting speaking and listening for pupils with English as an additional language in the Foundation Stage?   Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 41:1, 63-70,

 This study found that role play heightened children’s language use when undertaken with more knowledgeable peers and demonstrated clear links between the principles and practice behind role play and that of good practice in developing the language and speaking and listening skills of pupils who have EAL in the Foundation Stage.

Fumoto, H., Hargreaves, D. and Maxwell, S. (2007) Teachers’ perceptions of their relationships with children who speak English as an additional language in early childhood settings. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 5(2), 135-153.

 This study investigated ten early childhood teachers’ perceptions of their relationships with young children (mean age = 4 years 3 months), of whom 41 children spoke English as an additional language. The findings add empirical support to the importance of verbal communication, in addition to teachers’ sensitivity towards EAL children’s non-verbal expressions, as the basis for developing positive teacher—child relationships.

Andrews R, (2009)  Review of research in English as an Additional Language (EAL) London: Institute of Education


We are building a bank of resources to support your early years research project.  Links to suggested further reading in each of the key research hubs can be found below.  Or contact us and let us know how we can make this website more relevant to you and your practice.

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