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Young children's language learning pathways – Making early language learning visible for children aged 3 to 12

How to identify, understand and document early language learning in educational contexts

This resource website supports teachers and educators working with children aged 3 to 12 in making all language learning visible in the education system through observation, documentation, and assessment. PALINGUI offers essential information about early language learning as well as tools and tasks that will help to observe, document, and assess young children's language learning pathways in a multilingual context. 

We live in a world of change. Children are growing up in an increasingly diverse and multilingual societies. Globalisation, technology, and an increasing linguistic and cultural diversity in our societies place new demands on learning and teaching. Teachers and educators play an important role in supporting young children in the education system (defined here as being aged 3 to 12 or ISCED Level 0 and ISCED Level 1) in negotiating this diversity and supporting inclusive practices in their classrooms and schools. 

Children’s language learning pathways are as individual as the young learners themselves. These language learning pathways are shaped by the child’s individual learning experiences and developments, both within and outside of the education system. Children’s language and development consists of big and small steps. Teachers and educators can make the children in their setting feel valued and support them in being active agents of their own language learning by recognising and respecting different linguistic practices and associated cultures and cultural values.

PALINGUI aims to support all teachers and educators of children within the early years of the education system: those in contexts where multilingualism either in the community or the education system, is the norm, but also for those living and working in mainly monolingual contexts.

PALINGUI helps teachers and educators understand:

  • the importance of making the diverse language learning pathways of the children visible in the classroom, the school, and the education system;
  • the key principles that support successful language learning pathways in the education system;
  • how to make language learning pathways visible in practice: in the classroom and the school; 
  • how observation, assessment and documentation can be used for reflection and progress of language learning pathways.


ID: 8
Name: Young children's language learning pathways
Shortcut: www.ecml.at/younglearnerpathways
FlyerUrl: xx
Type: ENFR
Year: 2023
Authors: Ingeborg BIRNIE, Dana MUSILOVÁ, Catherine CARRÉ-KARLINGER, Flore SCHANK
En: True
Fr: True
De: False


A dynamic website with core principles, inspiring practices, and concrete tools from different educational contexts.
An overview of learner-centred strategies for observation, assessment and documentation.

Target groups

  • pre-primary and primary teachers;
  • other professional educational staff;
  • teacher educators.

Project team

Ingeborg BIRNIE
United Kingdom

Czech Republic

Supported by: Déirdre Kirwan (Ireland), and Thomaï Alexiou (Greece).