Author: Catrin Bethan Lye, Bangor University

Day One – Tuesday 25th June

Strand – Education

Session One: 11.30am – 1pm

The number of children attending Welsh-medium education in Wales is increasing yet little is known about the impact of bilingual education on children with learning difficulties, especially those being educated through their second language. Parents of these children often wonder if bilingual education is the right choice.

Studies of typically developing bilingual children being educated through Welsh suggest that home language significantly impacts on language development (e.g., Rhys & Thomas, 2012) however, little is known about children with moderate learning difficulties (MLD). This paper explores the impact of Welsh medium education on the language abilities of children with MLD, and considers the wider implications of the findings.

This study compares monolinguals and bilinguals aged between 7-12 years with and without MLD on vocabulary, reading accuracy and reading comprehension. Children in Welsh medium education were divided into three groups according to home language background,

Results suggest that there are few differences between monolingual and bilingual children with MLD however, analyses comparing TD children and children with MLD revealed a more complex picture.

Bilingual schooling is unlikely to adversely affect the language skills of children with MLD. However the pattern of language development for children with MLD does not appear to mirror that of TD children. The implications of these findings forĀ bilingual education and SEN will be discussed.

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