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Research School Network: How do young Bangladeshi and Sylheti-speaking children talk and play at home? Practitioners in diverse communities want to work in partnership with parents. Do they have the information they need?

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How do young Bangladeshi and Sylheti-speaking children talk and play at home?

Practitioners in diverse communities want to work in partnership with parents. Do they have the information they need?

Little is known about how young Bangladeshi and Sylheti-speaking children talk and play at home in England. Many practitioners who work in diverse communities want to work in partnership with parents to support children’s home learning, but they do not have the information they need, write Tania Choudhury and Alex Hodgkiss.


The East London Research School and The University of Oxford have joined together to take part in an exciting new research project. Funded by the John Fell Fund, the project aims to learn more about the home learning environment for families who speak English as an additional language (EAL) in London. 


The research will focus on how Bengali and Sylheti speaking families use language at home and how parents view the importance of their heritage language. As a result of the findings, the researchers aim to develop a pre-school language programme for multilingual families. The future intervention would be based on an intervention called Texts for Talk’. Texts for Talk is an 8‑week parent-delivered language programme for parents based around wordless picture books.

Wordless

Sheringham Nursery School are supporting Oxford University with gathering data for this monumental study. From their current cohort of children, they will recruit 30 Bangla speaking families and their 3 – 4 year old children. Parents will be asked to keep a detailed language diary similar to other studies that have used the language diary method with such communities (Lawson et al., 2004, Pennington, 2014). In the language diary, parents will record who has spoken with their child at home across the day during different activities and what languages were used. The researchers have however also decided to enhance their findings by also using the LENA audio device.


LENA – Language ENvironment Analysis – is a specialist device that can easily be placed on a child to audio record their surroundings. This recognised and established system for home language environment analysis has featured in many studies that have been published in reputable academic journals (Ganek & Eriks-Brophy, 2018). Families will be asked to record in their home environment for approximately three days and over a range of hours, scenarios and days in order to obtain the richest data possible. After obtaining the recordings, segments will be transcribed, translated and coded by bilingual research assistants.

344 lena baby

Interviews will be also conducted with parents to find out more about the parent’s views about the role and importance of their heritage language, and of English, in their child’s life. Sheringham Nursery School will act as a language broker between the families and Oxford University and building on their existing relationships with parents. Finally, focus groups will be conducted with Bangla-speaking families to support with designing the new iteration for the Texts for Talk language intervention.


The East London Research School and The University of Oxford are excited to begin this collaboration which will continue until October 2021. Further blog posts will be posted to provide updates on the project’s progress in the coming months. 


If you have any questions, please contact either Tania Choudhury (Tania.​Choudhury@​sheringham-​nur.​newham.​sch.​uk) or Alex Hodgkiss (Alex.​Hodgkiss@​education.​ox.​ac.​uk).


Further reading and references: 


Crozier, G., & Davies, J. (2007). Hard to reach parents or hard to reach schools? A discussion of home – school relations, with particular reference to Bangladeshi and Pakistani parents. British Educational Research Journal, 33(3), 295 – 313. doi: 10.1080÷01411920701243578


Ganek, H., & Eriks-Brophy, A. (2018). Language ENvironment analysis (LENA) system investigation of day long recordings in children: A literature review. Journal Of Communication Disorders, 72, 77 – 85. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2017.12.005


Lawson, S., & Sachdev, I. (2004). Identity, Language Use, and Attitudes: Some Sylheti-Bangladeshi Data from London, UK. Journal Of Language And Social Psychology, 23 (1), 49 – 69. doi: 10.1177÷0261927×03261223


Lawson, S., & Sachdev, I. (2004). Identity, Language Use, and Attitudes. Journal Of Language And Social Psychology, 23(1), 49 – 69. doi: 10.1177÷0261927×03261223


Pagett, L. (2006). Mum and Dad prefer me to speak Bengali at home: code switching and parallel speech in a primary school setting. Literacy, 40(3), 137 – 145. doi: 10.1111/j.1467 – 9345.2006.00424.x


Pennington, M., Sachdev, I., & Lau, L. (2014). Language Use by London Bangladeshi and Chinese Adolescents: Some Language Diary Data. In D. Abendroth-Timmer & E. Hennig, Plurilingualism and Multiliteracies: International Research on Identity Construction in Language Education (pp. 71 – 87). Frankfurt: Peter Lang AG.

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