Can we use Digital Media to Support Bilingual Language Development?
Dr Joanna Kolak (UCL)
Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) talk
Monday March 11th 2024, 4.00pm


High-quality educational media have the potential to support language development (Jing et al., 2023). Children spend an increasing amount of time engaged in digital media (Ofcom, 2022). Thus, using digital media to support children’s language development (alongside books and input from caregivers) would be invaluable, particularly for bilingual children who have less input in each of their languages and hear each language in fewer contexts (Hoff, 2018). However, little is known about bilingual children’s media use in both of their languages, and the impact that using (and co-using) media might have on their language development.

In this talk, I will provide an overview of the studies on bilingual language development in the first few years of schooling that I have conducted with my international collaborators. I will then move on to discussing our studies on the educational potential of children’s touchscreen apps, including the design of the Tools for evaluating the educational potential of apps, and the first systematic analysis of language in apps, compared to books and child-directed speech. Finally, I will present the results from my study on the quantity and quality of digital media use in Polish-English bilingual families in the UK, and the educational potential of language in media that those children are regularly exposed to. I will consider practical implications of these studies for both classroom and family settings.