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Young emergent multilingual children's agency in learning new language in trilingual Luxembourg
Mortini, Simone
2019Multilingual and Multicultural Learning: Policies and Practices (MMLPP19)


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Keywords :
Early childhood education; Translanguaging; Agency
Abstract :
[en] Studies on translanguaging suggest that opportunities to use languages flexibly in the classroom may give children some agency over their language use and facilitate their language learning (García & Kleifgen, 2010). In the emerging field of preschool bilingual education, scholars investigate the concept of child agency in relation to the learning of multiple languages (Schwartz, 2018). Children were shown to actively and creatively contribute to their language learning through choosing to interact in a particular language. Studies on young children’s translanguaging and agency nevertheless remain scarce, especially in multilingual contexts involving more than two languages (Schwartz et al., forthcoming). The present study focuses on eight children’s agentive behaviour in multilingual practices in two formal and two non-formal early childhood education institutions participating in a larger longitudinal research project on the development of multilingual pedagogies in trilingual Luxembourg. I drew on multidimensional qualitative research methods, including 65 days of participant observations, fieldnotes, video-recordings and semi-structured interviews with the practitioners. The findings show that all the children made use of various non-linguistic strategies and at least four named languages and translanguaged for various purposes (e.g. demonstrating knowledge, meaning making). Moreover, they showed two types of agentive behaviour: ‘participatory agency’ (e.g. adapting learning to practitioners’ requirements) and ‘controlling agency’ (e.g. influencing or changing peers’ or practitioners’ language use). The findings should deepen our understanding of the interplay between agency and translanguaging. García, O., & Kleifgen, J. (2010). Educating Emergent Bilinguals. Policies, Programs and Practices for English Language Learners. New York: Teachers College Press. Schwartz, M. (2018). Preschool Bilingual Education: Agency in Interactions between Children, Teachers, and Parents. Dordrecht: Springer. Schwartz, M., Kirsch, C., & Mortini, S. (forthcoming). Young children’s language-based agency in multilingual contexts in Luxembourg and Israel. (Applied Linguistic Review). Manuscript accepted for publication.
Research center :
- Education, Culture, Cognition & Society (ECCS) > Institute for Research on Multilingualism (MLing)
Disciplines :
Education & instruction
Author, co-author :
Mortini, Simone ;  University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS)
External co-authors :
Language :
Title :
Young emergent multilingual children's agency in learning new language in trilingual Luxembourg
Publication date :
14 December 2019
Event name :
Multilingual and Multicultural Learning: Policies and Practices (MMLPP19)
Event organizer :
Event place :
Prague, Czechia
Event date :
from 14-12-2019 to 15-12-2019
Audience :
Focus Area :
Educational Sciences
FnR Project :
FNR9989225 - Developing Multilingual Pedagogies In Early Childhood Education, 2015 (01/05/2016-30/04/2019) - Claudine Kirsch
Name of the research project :
Funders :
FNR - Fonds National de la Recherche [LU]
Available on ORBilu :
since 08 January 2020


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