Bilingualism in Early Childhood Education

MQF Level 6


Bilingualism in Early Childhood Education

October 2024
Module Type
ECTS Credits
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Module Description

This module explores the complexities and benefits of bilingualism in Early Childhood Education (ECE), particularly in the diverse linguistic landscape of Malta. It addresses how bilingualism impacts young children’s development and communication, strengthening their worldviews and cognitive abilities.

Key Learning Outcomes:

  • Language Development Theories: Participants will start with an overview of main theories of language development to set a strong conceptual foundation.
  • Understanding Bilingualism: The course will cover the definitions, types, manifestations, and common elements of bilingualism. Discussions will also delve into the benefits and challenges associated with bilingual upbringing in young children.
  • Practical Strategies: Participants will learn effective methods and tools for teaching and supporting bilingual children, including the use of resources and manipulatives that cater to diverse linguistic needs.
  • Policy and Literature Review: The module includes a comprehensive review of international, European, and local literature, as well as policy documents and legislation related to bilingualism in ECE settings.

Participants will gain in-depth knowledge and practical skills to support bilingual and plurilingual children, preparing them to navigate and enhance bilingual education environments.

Entry Requirements

Candidates who apply for this course will possess:

  • A full qualification at MQF level 4 in Early Childhood Education and SEC/Ordinary Level passes in Mathematics, English and Maltese.


  • 2 Advanced Level passes and 2 Intermediate Level passes including 2 subjects from Mathematics, English, Maltese.
    A pass at SEC/Ordinary Level in the subject that is not presented at advanced/intermediate level from the 3 specified above.
  • In the case of students who do not possess all the formal required academic qualifications, then the RPL process could be applied such that if evidence of equivalent learning, related to the area of study of this programme, is found then the applicant could still be accepted in the course. Such RPL process will subject applicants to an interview held with a board of experts within the field, chosen specifically by IDEA Academy, so as to verify their experiences and prior learning.

IDEA Academy’s RPL policy can be accessed through this link

Furthermore, it will be advised to students at entry point that before going on placements, they will need to be in possession of:

  • The POMA (Protection of Minors Application) certificate.
  • A first-aid certificate prior to commening placement practice.
  • A valid police conduct certificate.



Target Audience

This programme has the following target groups:

  • Individuals who are approaching the field of Early Childhood Education.
  • Individuals who have been working in the field as a means of capacity building.
  • Individuals looking to advance to Kindergarten Educator III role.

Module / Unit Instruction

The proposed structure comprises a blended approach promoting the building of a community of practice via peer-to-peer learning.

The structure uses primarily two dimensions of teaching-learning modes: · Face-to-face sessions: 18h · Online Learning Activities: 12h.

Face-to-face sessions include lectures, tutorials, discussions, presentations, and workshop activities promoting peer-to-peer learning.

Online Learning Activities incorporate tutorials and asynchronous discussions. These may consist of active interaction, participation, and contributions in fora discussions, sharing resources and self-reflection exercises.

Learners also contribute to the building of the community of practice by providing feedback to their peers as critical friends, enhancing the learner’s critical engagement throughout the study period.

The tutor provides continual support during both teaching-learning modes by providing information, readings, and tasks relevant to the module in question.

The tutor provides continuous formative feedback as an on-going guidance during the student’s learning experience in preparation for their summative assessment.

How you’ll be assessed

For this module, the assigned lecturer is guided to develop and assign a minimum of two assessment tasks, one of which should happen during the module to allow for formative feedback. Once the assessment tasks are developed by the lecturer, these go through a rigourous internal verification process to make sure that they are subject, level, and load appropriate.

All formative and summative tasks aim to provide the learner with an opportunity to produce evidence of his/her competences aligned to the learning outcomes of the modules and enhance his/her learning in the process.

Furthermore, the tasks may include different forms of assessment which allow and promote students’ knowledge in the area, critical engagement and other transversal skills that are required in the field (e.g., online discussions, in-class discussions, case studies, etc.).

The module consist of two assessments, each carrying a weighting as is below recommended:

a. Assessment 1 carries 20% of total module mark achieved. b. Assessment 2 carries 80% of total module mark achieved.

The overall grade achieved for this module is calculated as the sum of: · 80% of the mark achieved for Assessment 1; and · 20% of the mark achieved for Assessment 2.

a) Assessment 1 will be conducted in the form of a group presentation whereby the course participants need to present the strengths and challenges of bilingualism and plurilingualism in ECE.

b) Assessment 2  will be conducted in the form of a 2,000-word assignment whereby the course participants need to show a thorough understanding of bilingualism in ECE and how they can fulfil their role of Early Years practitioners in imparting language and literacy learning to young children.

For successful completion of this study module the student is required to achieve an overall pass mark of 50%.


Module Intake Dates

October 2024

Learning Outcomes


At the end of the module/unit the learner will have acquired the responsibility and autonomy to:

  • Analyse several international, European and local policy documents and legislations related to bilingualism in ECE.
  • Demonstrate an ability to prepare learning experiences that respect bilingualism in ECE.
  • Identify and manage the skills needed to support young children who are bilingual or plurilingual.
  • Analyse several theories of language acquisition and development.
  • Be able to create some resources which may be used with bilingual children.
  • Analyse the critical importance of collaborating with parents/legal guardians who are also bilingual to support young children.
  • Investigate the recommendations of local policy documents related to bilingualism.
  • Produce learning moments which reflect the recommendations of these policy documents.


At the end of the module/unit, the learner will be able to:

  • Be familiar with the benefits and challenges of bilingualism in ECE.
  • Learn about the different theories of language acquisition and development and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Learn about the fundamentals of bilingualism and plurilingualism (and also translanguaging)
  • Understanding the notions of bilingualism in supporting young children to strengthen their communication skills.
  • Be familiar with the main stages of language development by using real and contextualised scenarios.
  • Be familiar with different ways to become bilingual (simultaneous and scaffolded/sequential)
  • Know the main bilingualism types (compound, coordinate and subordinate)
  • Understand the main stages of language learning (preproduction, early production, speech emergence, intermediate fluency and advanced fluency)
  • Understand the different ways how to use resources to support bilingualism.
  • Understand key terms such as when discussing bilingualism.
  • Know the difference between simultaneous and sequential bilingualism.
  • Be familiar with various local school policies which are related to bilingualism.
  • Identify the importance of collaborating with different stakeholders who are also bilingual to support young children.
  • Beocme familiar with the recommendations of local policy documents related to bilingualism.
  • Acquire knowledge regarding techniques that will help young children ameliorate their language skills in Maltese and English.
  • Develop knowledge regarding how they can support young children in acquiring/enhancing their literacy skills in Maltese and English.


At the end of the module/unit the learner will have acquired the following skills:

  • Exhibit an understanding of the main theories of language development and acquisition.
  • Be able to apply the recommendations set in local policy documents within the ECE setting.
  • Appraise further knowledge of the subject by comparing national and international research on bilingualism.
  • Critically apply knowledge and skills to design resources which may be used in the bilingual ECE setting.
  • Help young children in holding simple conversations in Maltese and English.
  • Help young children progress in reciting songs or nursery rhymes in Maltese and English.
  • Be able to narrate stories to enhance young children’s listening skills in English/Maltese.
  • Be able to make use of pictures when narrating stories to enhance young children’s listening skills in English/Maltese.
  • Help young children recite short stories and nursery rhymes in Maltese and English.
  • Use interactive books to enhance young children’s reading and writing skills.
  • Put young children’s speaking skills in Maltese/English to the test though the use of play.
  • Evaluate and critically provide suggestions related to policy documents and legislation related to ECE.
  • Choose several myths about bilingualism and be able to debunk them by reviewing literature and scientific research.
  • Adopt a translanguaging approach helping young children use their mother tongue to think and process information and encouraging them, in turn, to develop the necesarry skills and vocabulary in Maltese and English. This can be achieved through the use of prompts, support of adults, etc.

Module-Specific Learner Skills:

At the end of the module/unit the learner will be able to:

  • Have a strong command of different tools which may be used to support bilingualism.
  • Distinguish between sequential and spontaneous bilingualism.
  • Justify their positionality about codeswitching by referring to literature.
  • Apply a thorough understanding of bilingualism by referring to the main benefits when teaching within ECE settings.
  • Propose content which may be used in bilingual ECE settings.
  • Point out several factors or elements which influence the acquisition of the first and second language.
  • Evaluate the different levels of bilingualism and how these affect the young learner (individual, family, school and community level). 
  • Adopt a plurilingual approach with young children whose L1 and L2 are neither Maltese nor English and find ways to include these young children in the classroom.

Module-Specific Digital Skills and Competences:

At the end of the module/unit, the learner will be able to:

  • Carry out academic research on websites (e.g. Google Scholar) or journals (e.g. EBSCO, Taylor & Francis, SAGE, etc)
  • Navigate the internet for documents and or guidebooks related to bilingualism in ECE.
  • Navigate through the online learning platform to download and upload the research proposal, discussion boards, literature, tutorials etc.
  • Use basic Microsoft office (or equivalent) applications in order to write and submit assignments.
  • Use different digital tools to promote bilingualism in ECE.
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