New research finds that young students who consider themselves 'multilingual' tend to perform better across a wide range of subjects in school.
The study surveyed 800 students in England, finding a positive relationship between exam scores and "multilingual identity." Students who self-identified as multilingual typically outperformed their peers not just in language-based subjects, but in subjects like geography, math, and science. According to the study, this applied whether or not they actually spoke a second language fluently.
The results indicate that encouraging pupils to identify with languages and to value different styles of communication could help them to develop a mindset that supports academic progress overall.
Dr. Dee Rutgers, a Research Associate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, said: "The evidence suggests that the more multilingual you consider yourself to be, the higher your exam scores. While we need to understand more about why that relationship exists, it may be that children who see themselves as multilingual have a sort of 'growth mindset' which impacts on wider attainment."
Students who spoke a second language at home did not always personally identify either as EAL or multilingual. Conversely, pupils who saw themselves as multilingual were not always those earmarked by the school as having English as an additional language.
The study findings appear to indicate that the positive mentality and self-belief which typically develops among pupils with a multilingual identity has benefits that "spill-over" for their wider education.
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