Layal Hussian (2018 Cohort)

Layal Hussian

About me:While undertaking my BSc in Psychology at the University of York, I found interest in pursuing developmental and cognitive research, alongside placements in schools. Having graduated with first-class honours in 2015, I carried on to specialize with an MSc in Developmental and Educational Psychology, from the UCL Institute of Education. I chose to complete my dissertation with the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), focusing on attentional control in Autistic adults, which was an experience that was particularly valuable to me as it engaged me in research with real life implications. Following graduation, I was eager to apply my knowledge back into a school setting, and worked for two years at a bilingual school, developing curriculum and professional learning. The opportunity to directly influence a child’s education for the better and to equip teachers and staff with the tools to do so, has further inspired me to make this a life passion and incorporate it into meaningful research.

My research: My PhD’s focus is on understanding specific benefits of growing up bilingual across mainstream and complementary schools. Complementary schools are voluntary schools set up by linguistic, cultural, or religious communities and largely focus on maintaining community languages and cultures. The longitudinal project is in coordination with the Newham Partnership for Complementary Education (NPCE), and aims to firstly ascertain cognitive, social, and educational benefits of bilingual development, and then more closely examine if children who develop bilingually with the extra context of complementary schools benefit even more than their bilingual and monolingual counterparts without such schooling. Based on the findings, specific features across the complementary schools studied will also be examined and how they may especially facilitate a child’s bilingual and bicultural development.

The difference my research makes: While bilingualism benefits have been well-reported, there is still a great need to understand these benefits across different domains, longitudinally, and particularly under the additional context of complementary schools. This project is important as while much of the world can speak more than one language, in the UK there has been a steady decline in school pupils who choose to study other languages, missing out on a valuable resource. Complementary schools also play a significant role in the educational sector, and while recent research has focused on their social importance and their role in identity formation, their contributions are still largely under-researched. This project will allow for a better and necessary understanding of these issues, and will conclude with the development of resources for schools and families to promote bilingual development and language learning in children, and in doing so, hopefully contribute to better educational practice.

Location: School of Psychology, University of East London

Pathway: Psychology

Email: u1819500@uel.ac.uk

Supervisors: Dr. Virginia Lam and Dr. Rachel George