Language use in multilingual families in the UK and Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic

1st March 2021 : 12:00 - 13:00

Category: Seminar Webinar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Professor Ludovica Serratrice, University of Reading

Location: Teams Online

Convener: Faidra Faitaki

Audience: Public

Join the event on the day with this link.

Protracted periods of lockdown and school closures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have affected the amount of time that children spend at home with their families and away from their peers. For some families in which English is not the first or the only language this situation has the potential to change multilingual patterns of interaction in significant ways. In this talk I will report some preliminary findings from an ongoing longitudinal study of language use in multilingual families in the UK and Ireland ( The first phase of the project (April-July 2020) included a survey with more than 750 respondents followed in August 2020 by a set of 18 interviews with parents and children of different ages. In November 2020 we invited 250 parents who had expressed an interest to be involved in the second phase to complete a shorter survey asking whether any changes in the use of English and their other language(s) had been maintained over time. The third and final phase of the project in April 2021 will include a final survey and a second round of interviews with the same families who were interviewed in summer 2020. In a set of initial analyses of the quantitative and of the qualitative data I will reflect on the implications for family language policy and for the role of input in children’s maintenance and development of their multilingual repertoire.

Bio: Ludovica has obtained a diploma in conference interpreting from the SSIT (Milan), a degree in English and French languages and literatures from the IULM (Milan), an MA in language acquisition from the University of Essex, and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in 2000. In 1999 she joined the University of Manchester. Since then, she has worked on language development in both monolingual and bilingual children and more recently on bilingual adults, with a specific interest in linguistic phenomena that cut across language structure and language use; issues of referential and syntactic choice have featured prominently in my work. Her recent research projects include a focus on analogical reasoning in syntactic choice; the relationship between language experience, executive function skills and referential choice; and the bilingual co-activation of morpho-syntactic structures during online sentence comprehension. In 2016, I joined the University of Reading as Professor of Bi-Multilingualism, and she is the Director of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism.