Introduction

We are pleased to announce the launch of an international conference on Multilingualism in the Early Years to be held in the Dublin Institute of Technology, Grangegorman, Dublin 7, Ireland on Thursday May 18th and Friday May 19th 2017.  This conference aims to stimulate cross-disciplinary engagement and debate on multiple aspects of early years multilingualism, a topic that we see to be of particular significance given the recent increase in children aged between birth to six years attending early years services in Ireland and internationally together with the growth in numbers of young children learning a second language in early childhood (Murphy 2016) and the emergence of cutting edge research on childhood language acquisition in recent years (Kuhl, 2012)

We envision that the following will be just some of the questions that will be addressed through this  conference:

What is the role of multilingualism in early years education? What is the role of early years education in promoting multilingualism in the early years? Do educational approaches matter and how does context influence second language learning? What are the key factors that empower young children to acquire additional languages?  What kinds of knowledge, skills and understanding do early years educators and teachers require in order to facilitate language learning in multilingual contexts? ? What similarities and differences characterise the different contexts of home, preschool and community in which children and their families live? What research is available (or wanting) to provide evidence of good practice? What are the benefits and challenges of multilingualism in early childhood?

The conference will be held at the new Dublin Institute of Technology  Grangegorman campus easily accessible from Dublin city centre.

Four renowned experts will present keynote papers on different aspects of the theme

  • Professor  Victoria Murphy: Professor of Applied Linguistics, Department of Education, University of Oxford: English as an Additional Language: The Early Years
  • Professor Sian Wyn Siencyn, Associate Professor (Early Childhood), University of Wales Trinity Saint David: Immersion in Wales:  myths, policies, and challenges
  • Dr Déirdre Kirwan, independent expert for the European Centre for Modern Languages who will speak on Multilingual Environments: benefits for early language learning
  • Dr Sandie Mourão, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal who will speak on Multilingualism in a foreign language through the shared reading of picture books

Presentations are invited from researchers and practitioners working with multilingual children or with children learning additional languages in immersion or foreign language contexts. The working language of the conference will be English, though we particularly encourage and welcome multilingual participants to guide us in the proceedings.