The Q-BEx project: Creating an optimized and customizable tool to document language experiences of bi/trilingual children

25th January 2022 : 13:00 - 14:00

Category: Seminar Webinar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Prof Cécile De Cat and Dr Draško Kašćelan (University of Leeds)

Location: Online- Teams

Convener: Faidra Faitaki

Audience: Public

Join online on the day of the event.

Speaker: Prof Cécile De Cat and Dr Draško Kašćelan (University of Leeds)

Abstract: Bilingualism research often requires documentation of participants’ language background. In relation to child bilingualism, this is usually achieved through parental questionnaires. However, due to diversity of operationalisations across questionnaires, the resulting measures can vary widely. A recent international Delphi consensus survey (De Cat et al., 2021) has highlighted the readiness of bilingualism researchers, clinicians, and teachers to adopt common methods for the documentation of bilingual experience in order to enhance the generalisability of research findings and facilitate exchanges between research and practice. We present a new questionnaire for Quantifying Bilingual Experience (Q-BEx) in children. The creation of the tool was informed by: (1) a Delphi consensus survey on quantifying bilingualism (completed by 132 researchers, teachers and speech and language therapists from 29 countries); (2) a comprehensive review of existing language background questionnaires; (3) lessons learned from the psychometric literature; and (4) a collaborative approach to validation and consultation with relevant experts in the field. The new tool is freely available in several languages as an online questionnaire and back-end calculator. It features seven modules documenting: background information, language exposure and use, language proficiency, richness of linguistic experience, attitudes and satisfaction with child’s language, language mixing, and risk factors. The questionnaire documents long-established constructs as well as some brought to light by recent research. We present the online version of the tool by outlining the customizability options, raw measures which can be obtained, and the back-end calculator of language exposure and use, as well of richness of linguistic experience. Finally, we outline the follow-up validation steps and the ongoing co-creation of a version optimised for use in schools.

Bio: Cécile De Cat is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Leeds. Her undergraduate degree was a Licence en Philologie Romane at the Belgian UCL (Louvain-la-Neuve). After coming to the UK as a French assistant in a Durham school (thanks to a European exchange programme), she got an MA in Linguistics from the University of Durham, and then worked as a research assistant on a language acquisition project at the University of York. She moved on to do a PhD in Language Acquisition (funded by the ESRC) at the University of York. After an ESRC-funded post-doc also at the University of York, she was appointed to the University of Leeds as a Lecturer. She has been Professor of Linguistics since 2015. She is currently also Professor II at the Arctic University of Norway (UiT) in Tromsø ( and she leads the Speech and Language action project group at the Centre for Applied Education Research.

Draško Kašćelan is a linguist currently working as a post-doctoral research assistant on the Q-BEx project. His previous research focused on bilingualism, cognitive skills (executive functions and the Theory of Mind), figurative language (idioms and metaphors), autistic-like traits, and autism spectrum disorders. His other areas of interest include code-switching, pragmatic language development, language impairment, and language processing.