Growing Up Bilingual

We are a team of researchers interested in numerous issues around growing up bilingual.

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Featured Works

Our Work

What We Do

With the support of ESRC funding, GUB was launched in October 2018, from the University of East London. We work with our external partners, Newham Partnership for Complementary Education (NPCE), National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRSCE), and various complementary language schools and primary mainstream schools across East London, following heritage-bilingual children’s development over time as they grow.

Work With Us

Our interests include children’s language, cognitive and social development, home inputs and learning contexts. The team consists of academics, (Virginia Lam, PI, Roehampton; Andrew Ravenscroft, UEL, and UBEL-DTP-funded PhD researcher, Layal Husain) and paid or voluntary interns (see our blog). Our school-partners offer Albanian, Gujarati, Russian and Tamil classes. We welcome other academics, students and wider communities to get in touch and get involved (scroll down for contacts).

Follow Us

This website documents the project’s progress and outputs. Apart from academic presentations and publications, we regularly beyond academia with practitioners in education and the multilingual communities through workshops and other events with the aims of gaining feedback and builidng up resources towards developing a set of toolkits that can cater to schools and families. Do frequent this site to view updates. You could also follow our blog for posts and news.

About Us

The key academic team on GUB.

Dr Virginia Lam

Virginia is the Principal Investigator of the project. With her original academic background in diversity and identity, a chance introduction to NPCE back in 2016 piqued her interest in the linguistic diversity and cultural vibrancy of the complementary education scene in London. This coincided with her own children’s beginning in a complementary language school at that time. Since then, the ‘scoping study’ with a Masters student supported by NPCE eventually led to her gaining funding for GUB in 2018. The works have been disseminated at a series of academic and civic engagement events and publications. Virginia is currently a co-convenor of the recently accredited MSc Psychology at Roehampton University. Previously she was the programme leader of BSc Child Psychology at UEL.

Layal Husain

Layal is the Doctoral researcher who joined this project at UEL in October 2018 to embark on her PhD. She had completed her Bachelors degree with First Class Honours at York, followed by a Masters with Distinction in Developmental and Educational Psychology at UCL then a 2-year work experience in a bilingual international school in Bahrain, before joining GUB. Layal has been conducting fieldwork in complementary and mainstream schools on: attentional control, executive functioning, word comprehension and production, language use and proficiency, and social competences and identities. She has also been gathering data from teachers and parents (online throughout the pandemic) about school and family language practices. She has recently returned to schools to complete follow-up testing with the children.

Professor Andrew Ravenscroft

Andrew is the Education co-supervisor on this project from the UEL School of Education. With a background in psychology and learning technology, he is co-director of the International Centre for Public Pedagogy, which researches inclusive education, curriculum innovation and critical political pedagogy. Andrew brings innovative education expertise to this interdisciplinary project.

Our Advisory

Dr Melanie Vitkovitch is a principal lecturer in cognitive psychology who has been with UEL Psychology for over 20 years. She specialises object and word naming and semantic interference and has published widely in these areas.

Dr Rachel George is a director of Higher Education Learning and Teaching at the University of Greenwich. Previously she was the Psychology undergraduate leader at UEL. Her specialisms are language difficulties and numeracy development.

Pascale Vassie OBE is Executive Director of NRCSE. She has had over 25 years’ experience working with minorities and refugees in community-led initiatives. Pascale received her OBE in 2017 in recognition of her services to education.

Our works to date related to GUB

Husain, L., & Lam, V. (2021). Growing up bilingual: language proficiency, social identities and competences of complementary school-attendees and non-attendees in the UK. Language & Education, early online publication.

Husain, L. (2021). Growing up bilingual: Working with Sphresa programme. Post for Sphresa programme. News & Blog.

Lam, V. L. (2021). What does scientific research say about bilingual early years? Invited talk at the Russian Preschool Conference, Russian Education Consortium and UK Russian Schools, online, 24th June.

Husain, L., & Lam, V. (2020). Understanding the benefits of growing up bilingual: the first timepoint of a longitudinal study. Paper presented at the Bilingualism Matters annual research symposium, online, 22nd September.

Lam, V. L., Chaudry, F. R., Pinder, M., & Sura, T. (2019). British Sikhs in complementary schooling: the role of heritage language proficiency and ‘culture learning’ in ethnic identity and bicultural adaptation. Language and Education, 34, 81-96.

Husain, L. (2019). Growing up bilingual: understanding specific benefits across the mainstream and complementary education sectors. In Mental Health and Education, UEL Research & Knowledge Exchange Conference (p. 29), London Stratford, 27th June.

Husain, L., Lam, V., Vitkovitch, M., & George, R. (2019). Growing up bilingual: understanding specific benefits across mainstream and complementary education sectors. Paper presented at the Bilingual Acquisition of Language and Literacy/BiALL annual conference (p. 11), Berlin, 24th May.

Lam, V. (2018). What does academic research say about growing up bilingual? Invited talk at the symposium Growing up bilingual: educational perspectives, Rossotrudnichestvo/Russia in the UK Office with the Russian Embassy, London, 14th June.

Lam, V. L., Chaudry, F. R., Pinder, M., & Sura, T. (2017). Fostering a bilingual/ bicultural generation: a mixed-methods study in a complementary school context. Poster presented at the 18th European Conference on Developmental Psychology (p. 561), Utrecht, 1st September.

Lam, V. L. (2017). Helping to foster the next bilingual-bicultural generation: the Ramgarhia story. Invited keynote presented at the NPCE Learning a Home Language public meeting, Forest Gate London, 1st April.

Lam, V. L. (2017). Helping to foster the next bilingual and bicultural generation: The Ramgarhia story. A non-technical report for school, families and other stakeholders. London: Ramgarhia Gurdwara.

Events and Media Coverage

Znaniye Events and News (25th June, 2021). Russian Preschool Conference. [Photo-report referring to V. Lam and this project].

UEL Events (27th February, 2020). Growing up bilingual: Language learning in complementary schools: A photography exhibition/ collaborative project with level 6 Photography students. Docklands.

Znaniye Education Centre (4th July, 2018). News: Growing up bilingual—educational perspectives.

Russian Embassy (15th June, 2018). Remarks by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko at the “Growing up bilingual” seminar [Photo report].

The Newham Recorder (5th April, 2017). School holds special event to promote bilingual education. (in People section; p. 16)

UEL News (5th April, 2017). UEL discusses bilingualism at Ramgarhia Panjabi school. Academic gives keynote speech on UEL study of complementary school pupils. UEL discusses bilingualism at Ramgarhia Panjabi School – University of East London (UEL)

NRCSE (1st April, 2017): Learning a home language — helping to foster the next bilingual/bicultural generation.

Funding gratefully received from following sources thus far

ESRC funding through the UBEL (University Bloomsbury & East London) DTP (Doctoral Training Partnership) Collaborative scheme (2018-22): Growing up bilingual: Understanding specific benefits across the mainstream and complementary education sectors. [ESRC Grant Ref ES/P000592/1]

British Psychological Society/ BPS Research Seminar Competition: Growing up bilingual: Researcher-practitioner synergies (2021-22).

British Psychological Society BPS Research Assistantship Scheme: Crisis or chameleon: Identity formation and psychological adjustment of dual-heritage young people (2020-21)

UEL Research & Development Support ReDS-funded Internship Scheme: From bilingual to bicultural development Research Assistantship (2019-20).

College of Applied Health and Communities CAHC-funded Sabbatical Scheme: Bilingual development: Language, culture and identity (2019)

UEL Centre for Student Success CfSS-funded Internship Scheme: Growing up bilingual Fieldwork assistantship (2019)

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Get in Touch with the PI

School of Psychology, Whitelands College, University of Roehampton, London SW15 4PJ United Kingdom Email:

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