Centre for Language Education Research Conversation: Multilingualism, Socio-Economic Status and Educational Success

Join us for this Centre for Language Education Research (CLER) Conversation, led by Prof Cecile De Cat with discussants Dr. Gill Main, and Rumana Hossain, Postgraduate Researcher, University of Leeds.

Socio-economic status as a proxy for input quality in bilingual children?

This study investigates the effect of socio-economic status (SES) as a proxy for input quality, in predicting language proficiency. Different operationalizations of SES are compared, including simple measures (parental education and parental occupation) and complex measures combining two dimensions (among parental education, parental occupation, and deprivation risk). All significantly predict overall English proficiency scores in a diverse group of 5- to 7-year-olds acquiring English and another language. The most informative SES measure in that respect is shown to be a complex measure combining parental education and parental occupation. That measure is used in a second set of analyses probing whether different aspects of language are more sensitive to variations in SES and in language exposure. “Late phenomena” (as defined by their timing of acquisition by monolinguals) remain the most challenging in this age group, and preliminary evidence from sentence repetition data suggests that they are affected differently by SES and by language exposure.

Speaker bio

Prof Cécile De Cat, Professor of Linguistics

After a couple of years working as a language teacher, Cecile discovered formal linguistics and language acquisition research during an MA at Durham University, followed by a PhD and post-doc at the University of York.  She joined the University of Leeds in 2004. Her research focuses on individual differences in language development (in monolingual and bilingual children as well as adult second language learners), the cognitive interplay between language and cognition, and experimental syntax. She currently leads Language@Leeds and the Speech and Language action project group at the Centre for Applied Education Research (in Bradford).

About our Discussants

Dr. Gill Main, Associate Professor in the School of Education

Gill’s research focuses on child poverty, social exclusion, and subjective well-being. She has published widely on children’s and families’ own perspectives on child poverty, and on how listening to children and families can help us to better understand and address child poverty.

 Rumana Hossain

Doctoral Researcher in the School of Education, is researching the experience of Bangladeshi academics on return from study abroad. Her interests are in sociolinguistics, language education, social and academic mobility, and gender.

Event information

This online event will be held on zoom. To register for this event please Sabahi Juma at CLER@leeds.ac.uk

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