In 2019–2020, in the five French-language school service centres in the greater Montréal area, 39.9% of preschool-aged children spoke a first language other than French. To foster inclusive education and the students’ integration and educational success, the implementation of pedagogical practices that account for the characteristics of emerging bilingual and multilingual children constitutes a determining factor.
With that in mind, we created the Albums plurilingues ÉLODiL application, which makes 11 French-language children’s books translated in some 20 languages available in class and at home. Each book includes a French audio version and some also offer audio versions in other languages.
First, the action research made is possible to demonstrate how children start to feel more positive toward French when the multilingual books become the focus of language development activities. Indeed, the detour through other languages strengthens the students’ engagement in French language learning. Second, positive impacts on the students’ oral comprehension of the stories (reading index), narrative skills, vocabulary and written concepts were observed. It is therefore possible to support emerging bilingual and multilingual children by focusing on accepting and respecting their linguistic backgrounds, which must be perceived as an asset and not as an obstacle to learning the language of instruction, as underpinned by the preschool education program.
Françoise Armand, Université de Montréal
Deposit of the reserch report: June 2021