CAD.20.003 – Multilingual Voices in STEM Education

Route: Child and adolescent development, upbringing and education

Cluster question: 065 What should education be like in the future?

In the Netherlands, migrant children do not optimally participate in education and their multilingual voices are insufficiently heard. As instruction is in Dutch, these children face the double challenge of simultaneously learning a language and learning through that language. Knowledge and proficiency in the home language remain unused when learning mathematics or science. Several actors in children’s daily environments could strengthen their participation through enacting multilingual strategies. However, teachers do not know how to use the full linguistic repertoire of migrant children. Educational professionals working in science centres strive for inclusion but fail to include migrant children in available educational programmes. Migrant parents face obstacles to engage in their children’s education and learning because of language barriers. Even though in their daily lives children move between these formal (school), non-formal (science centres) and informal (home) settings, there is limited interaction between such settings and limited use of multilingualism as a resource to cross boundaries faced within and between settings. From a scientific perspective, there is a need to determine if children participate more when using their full linguistic repertoires, to better understand and conceptualise the relevant language barriers, and to pinpoint how multilingual strategies support children’s participation within different learning setting and support interactions between different learning settings. The aim of this initiative is to understand how multilingual strategies can
promote migrant children’s STEM participation in and across formal, non-formal and informal learning settings involving different actors such as teaching professionals, other educational professionals working in, for example, science centres, and caregivers in the home environment such as parents and extended family.


formal and informal learning, inclusion, mathematics and science education, multilingualism, school achievement


Organisation Utrecht University (UU)
Name Prof. dr. W.B.T. (Elma) Blom