UCL Grand Challenges


BiLingo: a new project exploring bilingualism in London

14 March 2017

The Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding is supporting a fascinating new project looking at the bilingual and multilingual nature of London.

BiLingo aims to provide the London community and key agencies in the capital with the most up-to-date research-based advice, information, support and training on childhood bilingualism/multilingualism and learning English as an Additional Language (EAL).

The project has started by surveying staff at UCL and found over 60 languages represented. If you are a member of UCL staff you can visit the website and fill in the survey, to help show the rich diversity of languages spoken here at UCL.

BiLingo plans to recruit bilingual and multilingual families to record stories in their own languages and translate them into English. They are also plan to translate some of these stories into other languages prevalent in many schools in London.

In addition, the project has taken the latest research on translation to the public. They have run a number of successful public engagement events, mainly targeting the parents of bilingual or multilingual children. Many parents are keen to discuss common problems with raising bilingual children and hear more about the science of language development.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGx1WAdrI0c


The BiLingo project team includes researchers from UCL Psychology and Language Sciences and the UCL Institute of Education.

Dr Froso Argyri, a language scientist who works on the project said:

"I think we are tapping into an unmet need in the wider community: many families are worried about maintaining their first or home language on one hand and on the other hand, they want to be reassured that their children's successful acquisition of English is not threatened by their choice to maintain their home language. The comments we have had from parents show that BiLingo's contribution is very important: we ensure them that it is a healthy possibility for children to build two or more identities and speak two or more languages and this does not endanger their successful acquisition of English."

Find out more about the BiLingo project

This project was funded by the 2016-17 Grand Challenges Small Grants