#MotherTongueDay celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity to build toward sustainable societies. At the @MultilingFamLab, we are committed to supporting the mother tongue(s), or first language(s) of multilingual families. Around the world, about 40% of children do not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Early education in the mother tongue is especially important to avoid knowledge gaps – it provides children with a more equitable start to their education.
Our work with multilingual families in Canada has highlighted that while many parents are strongly invested in their child’s education, they encounter challenges directly supporting their child because of language barriers between home and school (e.g., MacLeod, Meziane & Pesco, 2020). For the past 5 years, we have developed and implemented dual-language groups that focus on the home languages and introduce the language that will be used in school. Creating a space outside the home for the mother tongue signals that this language is valuable. By using the mother tongue in a group setting parents are empowered as language experts and included in the activities. Through these groups, we can also counter the belief that maintaining your mother tongue can interfere with learning the language used at school.
Your mother tongue is a powerful connection to your family, culture, and community. Supporting families in maintaining this connection is essential as we build toward a sustainable Canada.
C’était un plaisir de présenter au Campus St-Jean dans le contexte du panel sur Les effets négatifs de la COVID-19. Le Lab des Familles Multilingues a mené une enquête sur la communication des enfants durant la COVID-19.
Certains parents parents observent une croissance dans le langage de leurs enfants en lien avec l’attention 1 sur 1. Certains parents expriment que passer plus de temps en famille est agréable autant pour eux que pour les enfants.
La période de COVID-19 a fortement impacté les relations des enfants avec leurs ami.e.s d’école. Ils n’ont en majorité plus de relation avec leur pairs. Un besoin critique pour les parents et les tuteurs.trices est d’avoir plus de réunions et de formation avec les clinicien.ne.s et les enseignant.e.s. Pour les parents et les tuteurs.trices, savoir quels jouets utiliser ou adapter pendant la pandémie est un défi. Les enfants peuvent ressentir beaucoup d’émotions et ne pas savoir comment en parler.
Au sujet des masques et la communication précoce, nous partageons quelques astuces: Il est important d’attirer l’attention de l’autre, de parler plus fort, plus lentement, avec des phrases courtes et avec une intonation exagérée. Ainsi qu’utiliser des gestes et exagérer les expressions – surtout autour des yeux! De plus, il est important d’encourager et soutenir la communication à la maison.
Nous avons développé une série de 4 infographies pour les parents qui décrivent des astuces, des suggestions, et des conseils. Suite aux réponses sur le questionnaire les thèmes portaient sur la communication, le jeu, et la santé mental. Ils sont disponibles en français, anglais et espagnol gratuitement sur notre site web de notre labo MFL et sur le site ERA de l’University of Alberta.
As three MSc-SLP students, McCleary, White & Piquette, began their capstone research project in 2019, the goal was to complete an environmental scan of needs for a dual-language stimulation approach in Edmonton and, if needs existed, pilot the program. They found that a need existed and, together with Dr. MacLeod, we developed a partnership with the ABC HeadStart Society. We implemented our StimuLER program. StimuLER is a dual-language stimulation program established in Montréal that aims to to support children in developing their first and second language (MacLeod, Meziane & Pesco, 2020).
The current research study sought to evaluate the implementation of the StimuLER program in partnership with a community-based early childhood intervention program during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of COVID-19, families experienced unprecedented challenges when trying to access early intervention services for their child. Two objectives were identified: (1) Provide recommendations on the implementation of StimuLER sessions in accordance with COVID-19 protocols; (2) explore parent perspectives on early intervention programming during COVID-19 to inform the delivery of future StimuLER sessions.
Through the partnership with the community organization, we delivered four one-hour StimuLER sessions. A formative evaluation of the StimuLER program was conducted in addition to a thematic analysis of parent responses from semi-structured interviews. Parents completed a 30-minute interview; questions pertained to language development and pandemic-related changes to early intervention services (n=8).
Through formative evaluation, we learned more on how to deliver sessions through modifying session activities and being responsive to changing protocols. The thematic analysis on parent perspectives found that families experienced both challenges and unexpected benefits as a result of the pandemic. The formative evaluation provides recommendations on how to deliver StimuLER sessions in accordance with evolving public health restrictions. The wide range in parent perspectives indicates that program providers should provide mixed-delivery of sessions in order to cater to unique community needs. Further research is required to investigate a mixed-method delivery of StimuLER sessions.
Thanks to funding from Research Impact Canada and the University of Alberta’s Kule Institute for Advanced Studies, we developed multilingual information about children’s pronunciation of French in kindergarten.
The information is based on our research published in Meziane & MacLeod (2017) that came from a study of multilingual children attending kindergarten in French-speaking schools. Carolina Salinas Marchant, Sabah Meziane and Andrea MacLeod developed these resources.
This work grew from our community-based program to support the home and school languages of children who are refugees. These 3 case studies provide an important perspective on the oral language abilities of three young children who were born in Syria and moved to Canada with their families as refugees. We spoke to parents about their children’s first language development, gathered perspectives from their teachers about their learning of French, the language of schooling, and observed their language abilities in action in both Arabic and French. We found that the home language was vulnerable to delays and weaknesses and that learning the language of school was a drawn-out process. We also found that parents were highly invested in their children’s success but communication with the school was not always easy. To foster resilience, we need to find ways to build bridges with parents to support children’s language in both the language of home and school.