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Read with Multilingual Early Education

Read with MEE

Read with MEE advances key literacy skills & equitable educational opportunities for multilingual children (2-6 y/o), especially those belonging to a national/regional/migrant/refugee minority, by inclusion of their linguistic skills in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). It addresses a gap in inclusive multilingual literacy development and aims to: increase knowledge; support implementation in ECEC and at home; develop positive attitudes towards linguistic diversity and home languages.

Research theme: Multilingualism and Language Learning
Duration: December 2023 - December 2026
Coordinating partner: Mercator/ Fryske Akademy
Mercator Staff: Martine Jansen, Jelske Dijkstra
Funding: Erasmus+ / KA220-SCH - Cooperation partnerships in school education
Collaboration withATiT (BE), NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences (NL), 8D Games (NL), Trinity College Dublin (IE), University of the Basque Country (ES)
More information: coming soon.

Project aims

Children who grow up multilingually often face unequal educational opportunities, as their full repertoire of linguistic skills (including home language(s)) are often not valued nor supported in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC; Kratzmann et al., 2017; Salem et al., 2020). Read with MEE aims to support key literacy competences and to advance inclusive and equitable educational opportunities for multilingual children aged 2-6, and especially those belonging to a national/regional/migrant/refugee minority.

The specific needs of multilingual children need to be considered to tackle the unequal educational opportunities they face (Dias-Broens & Van Steensel, 2022; Kratzmann et al., 2017; Salem et al., 2020). It is vital to create equitable and inclusive opportunities for children this age, as they form the foundations of key literacy competences at that time, which can affect their future educational development throughout (Duarte, J. & Kirsch, C., 2020). Addressing their multilingualism is fundamental to their well-being too (Salem et al., 2020). We focus on children belonging to a national/regional/migrant/refugee minority, as they are more likely to have a lower prestige first language(s), which negatively affects the support for their whole linguistic repertoire and, thus, learning opportunities (Ball, commissioned for UNESCO,2011). PISA 2018 Results e.g. show that children (15 y/o) with an ethnic & linguistic background score lower on literacy skills. Such international studies explore the so-called ‘achievement gap’ between mono- and multilingual children, but this gap is the outcome, while the (educational) opportunity gap is the underlying cause. Read with MEE addresses this opportunity gap to reduce the achievement gap by providing tools to help ECEC educators in increasing the educational opportunities of multilingual children.

Read with MEE promotes early multilingual literacy development at ECEC centres, and in home environments, as synergetic programs are more advantageous for the children’s literacy development (Fikrat-Wevers et al., 2021; Kratzmann et al.,2017). The project includes game-based learning, which increases children’s motivation, engagement, and improves content learning and problem-solving skills (Spires & Lester, 2016).

The project links to the EU quality framework for ECEC (2019/C 189/02), with an emphasis on recommendations 2(f; g), 3(d); 4 (d;e; f;g), as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with an emphasis on Art. 29.1.c and 30. These promote, e.g. inclusive ECEC & equal learning opportunities in respect to linguistic & cultural diversity, home languages & digital tools, as well as an education continuum. It also links to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, esp. concerning literacy achievement, appreciation of cultural diversity, & upgrading education facilities to provide e.g. inclusive & effective learning environments.