Doran International Early Childhood Education Center


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Identity and first language
Literacy in multiple languages: stories from the field

Biliteracy refers to children’s literate competencies in two languages. These languages can be developed to different degrees, either synchronous or asynchronously.

As noted by Bialystok (2001), “monolingual and bilingual children move in different cognitive worlds, experience different linguistic environments, and are challenged to communicate using different resources, remaining sensitive to different abstract dimension”.

This is why as early childhood educators, with the rise in multilingualism in many parts of the world, it is so important that we develop our understanding of biliteracy development and the challenges that come with it.

In this presentation, Dr. Sabine Little will talk about her research on biliteracy development, focusing on two specific projects:

– The first, drawing on Cliff Hodges’ “Rivers of Reading”, exploring critical incident technique to understand how multilingual children experience biliteracy development, and what strategies they are employing to overcome asynchronous bilteracy development.

– The second, highlighting work on the Multilingual Children’s Library and its impact on multilingual families.


Sabine Little is a Lecturer in Languages Education at the University of Sheffield. Originally trained as a languages teacher, her work for the past decade has focused on multilingualism, identity, and belonging, seeking to give children the tools to draw on their full linguistic repertoire and have all aspects of their identity acknowledged in formal education contexts. Her work has been funded by several major research councils, and she is currently leading a European project on multiliteracies, involving researchers from England, Germany, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. She convenes the Literacy and Multilingualism Special Interest Group for the UK Literacy Association, and her work on the Multilingual Children’s Library has won the international Brenda Eastwood Award for Diversity and Inclusion.


Sunday, May 9th

15:00 -17:00 GMT


Course fee: 13.5 CAD


To register, please email:


  • The session will be recorded and saved for a week. 
  • The session will be available with Arabic, Russian and Chinese subtitles after 2 weeks. 


To register, please email: