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Home Literacy Environment and Family Language Policy of Language Minority Children in Luxembourg (HOMELY)

Principal Investigator

Dr Gabrijela Aleksić

































































































Project Duration

December 2017 – January 2019

































































































Funding and Support

Research Unit INSIDE, MLing and LUCET


































































































Early literacy skills are critical for later academic achievement of all children. However, language minority children are particularly vulnerable when it comes to developing literacy in a language other than their own. A wealth of research showed that children’s home language should not be abandoned as it is important for promoting dynamic multilingualism, assuring cross-linguistic transfer, strengthening family ties and developing identity.

This project aims to explore home literacy environment, family language policy and language competences of language minority preschool children in Luxembourg. It involves children age 4 to 6, their parents and teachers. To achieve the aim I conducted three studies:

  1. In the first study I investigated the language resources and the activities of children in their families in the form of a parent questionnaire. There were 76 questions in 8 languages. I received 600 parent questionnaires back.
  2. In the second study, through the 31 interviews with the interested parents from the first study, I explored the family language policy: how parents and children learn, manage and negotiate different languages at home. We took photos of cultural objects at parents’ homes and listened to their stories
  3. In the third study, we tested 196 preschool language minority children in their language competences in home language (Portuguese, Serbian / Croatian / Bosnian, French, German and English) and Luxembourgish. We used the Performance Indicators on Primary Schools Test (PIPS, Tymms, 1999), a test of early literacy and numeracy. In addition, I asked the teachers to rate the children on the socio-emotional skills and behaviour at school.

Finally, I invited the school coordinators and their teams to identify opportunities, difficulties and possible sources of support when working with language minority children.

Structural equation modelling and content analyses showed us important links between the children’s home literacy environment, family language policy, and language competences in their home languages and Luxembourgish. For example, the most important predictors for children’s early reading were parent involvement, parent reading habits and numbers of books, while for children’s print knowledge this was parent involvement. Additional information on children’s socio-emotional skill and behaviour enlarge the context of those links. Based on this valuable information we can strengthen the collaboration between families and teachers regarding children’s multilingual development and their academic achievement.