Dr Sabine Little
BMus, PGCE, PCHE, CiLT, Med, MA, PhD, SFHEA
School of Education
Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching
Senior Lecturer in Educational Studies (Languages Education)
Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Director, MA Education, Teaching and Learning
+44 114 222 8089
Full contact details
School of Education
Edgar Allen House
241 Glossop Rd
I am interested in links between language, identity, and belonging, and the role of multilingualism in society. I work both with families, schools, and public spaces such as libraries, to explore what it means to grow up multilingual. I have developed and worked on a number of projects that explore multilingualism and identity as a social justice issue, seeking to push against the deficit model of English as an Additional Language.
I work with teachers teaching in multilingual classrooms at UK and international level, providing continued professional development, and directing the international Postgraduate Certificate in Education, an online distance learning programme, taken by educationalists all over the world. I have led and worked in research projects in Mexico and The Gambia, in each case exploring the role of multilingualism in society from different angles. Technology has a frequent place in both my research and my teaching.
Before joining the School of Education, I worked as a languages teacher, and before that, I trained as an opera singer.
- Research interests
My main and over-arching research interest is in the field of heritage language learners and identity - I am interested how families who speak multiple languages in the home navigate these languages, and what this means for individual family members' sense of identity and well-being.
Language is an integral part of identity, but is a very personal experience, even within the same family, so my work focuses on helping families and policy-makers understand issues and pressures faced by heritage language families, and to develop holistic support opportunities.
I am keen on developing community-driven research, working with teachers, community organisations, and children to develop research that reflects their experiences and needs. My work on creating and evaluating a Multilingual Children’s Library in Sheffield was awarded the Brenda Eastwood Award for diversity and inclusion.
I am interested in hearing from prospective research students looking to work in the area of multilingualism and identity, especially in research involving children and young people/families, or the role of multilingualism in school contexts.
Recent funded projects:
- Multilingual Education in The Gambia, King’s College London, 2021-2022
- Lost Wor(l)ds: On language, heritage, and forgetting, Economic and Social Research Council (Innovation Knowledge Exchange Fund), 2020-2022
- Communities' languages, identities and belonging in participatory health care interventions in Yucatan, Mexico, Royal Academy of Engineering / Global Challenges Research Fund, 2019-2020
- Children’s Multilingual Reading, Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2018-2020
- Heritage Language Families: Identity and Wellbeing, The British Academy, 2018-2019
- Rivers of Multilingual Reading: Torrent or Trickle?, UK Literacy Association, 2017-2019
- Heritage language literacy support at primary level – are YouTube and Apps the answer?, UK Literacy Association, 2015-2016
- Call for Papers for the Special Issue of Literacy: Storytelling in troubled times: multimodal, multilingual and multimedia. Literacy, 54(3), 158-159.
- The language of learning : Maltese teachers’ views on bilingual and multilingual primary classrooms. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 7(1), 108-123. View this article in WRRO
- Great Aunt Edna's Vase: Metaphor Use in Working with Heritage Language Families. The Family Journal, 27(2), 150-155. View this article in WRRO
- 'Is there an app for that' Exploring games and apps among heritage language families. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40(3), 218-229. View this article in WRRO
- Global teachers as global learners - intercultural teacher training in international settings. London Review of Education, 17(1), 38-51. View this article in WRRO
- Families’ roles in children’s literacy in the UK throughout the 20th century. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 17(4), 551-569. View this article in WRRO
- Whose heritage? What inheritance?: conceptualising family language identities. International journal of bilingual education and bilingualism. View this article in WRRO
- ‘We are not as they think about us’: exploring Omani EFL learners’ ‘selves’ in digital social spaces. Multicultural Education Review, 9(3), 175-187. View this article in WRRO
- A generational arc: early literacy practices among Pakistani and Indian heritage language families. International Journal of Early Years Education, 25(4), 424-438. View this article in WRRO
- Promoting a collective conscience: designing a resilient staff–student partnership model for educational development. International Journal for Academic Development, 21(4), 273-285. View this article in WRRO
- Learning trajectories, violence and empowerment amongst adult basic skills learners. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 37(4), 458-459.
- View this article in WRRO 'The confidence to do things that I know nothing about’ – skills development through extra-curricular inquiry activity. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education(3).
- View this article in WRRO A learning development team: three developers, one pedagogy. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education(1).
- Inquiry-based learning and technology-supporting institutional TEL within one pedagogical context. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(3), 422-432.
- PROMPTING HERITAGE-LANGUAGE ENGAGEMENT IN ENGLISH-SPEAKING MALTESE FAMILIES, VIA A FAMILY LANGUAGE PROGRAMME INTERVENTION.. First Language.
- Half of who you are”: parent and child reflections on the emotional experiences of reversing familial language shift. International Journal of Bilingualism.
- Rivers of multilingual reading: exploring biliteracy experiences among 8-13-year old heritage language readers. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 1-14.
- Designing for inquiry-based learning with the Learning Activity Management System. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25(3), 238-251.
- View this article in WRRO An un/familiar space: Children and parents as collaborators in auto-ethnographic family research. Qualitative Research.
- 13 Social media and the use of technology in home language maintenance, Handbook of Home Language Maintenance and Development (pp. 257-273). De Gruyter Mouton View this article in WRRO
- Beyond words: Language hybridity in postcolonial multilingual classroom environments—Malta’s way forward In Anderson V & Johnson H (Ed.), Language, Migration and Translation: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Human Mobility and Cultural Encounters (pp. 161-173).
- View this article in WRRO Drawn in All Directions: Heritage Language Families’ Use of Technology In Mascheroni G, Ponte C & Jorge A (Ed.), Digital Parenting: The Challenges for Families in the Digital Age (pp. 61-68). Goteborg: Nordicom.
- Assessment for Autonomy, Assessment for Learning, and Learner Motivation: Fostering Learner Identities In Tsagari D (Ed.), Classroom-based Assessment in L2 Contexts
- Perspectives on staff-student partnership in learning, research and educational enhancement In Little S (Ed.), Staff-Student Partnerships in Higher Education (pp. 1-16). London: Continuum.
- Collaborating for Staff-Student Partnerships: Experiences and Observations In Little S (Ed.), Staff-Student Partnerships in Higher Education (pp. 215-226). London: Continuum.
- "Oily Rag" or "Winged Messenger", Applied E-Learning and E-Teaching in Higher Education (pp. 1-17). IGI Global
- Supporting a dispersed community: CoP development in the Caribbean In Kimble C & Hildreth P (Ed.), Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators (Volume 2) (pp. 105-124). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
- Linking collaboration to learner autonomy: peer cognizance in action In Lamb T & Jimenez-Raya M (Ed.), Pedagogy for autonomy in modern languages education: theory, practice, and teacher education Dublin: Authentik.
- Identitätsbildung im Fremdsprachenunterricht (‘Creation of identity in the foreign language classroom’) In Jung U (Ed.), Praktische Handreichung für Fremdsprachenlehrer (pp. 381-385). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
Conference proceedings papers
- Networked learning in the Caribbean: A case study from a developing world. Proceedings of the International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL, Vol. 2006-January (pp 267-275)
- UK (Sheffield) (Makerspaces in the Early Years).
- Makerspaces in the Early Years: Current Perceptions and Practices of Early Years Practitioners, Library and Museum Educators and Makerspace Staff - A Survey.
- Embracing the unpredictable effect of one person: an interview with Professor Keri Facer. Literacy, 56(1), 86-92.
- Editorial for Special Issue in Literacy Journal.
- Research group
#supervisionaries - stories of brilliant doctoral supervision
Sabine is an inspirational supervisor and mentor. She takes a personal interest in her students and is always ready to share her skills, knowledge and expertise. We share a passion for education, language and communication, and our discussions are always thoroughly enriching. She believes in me and is always encouraging me to pursue various opportunities throughout the course of my PhD journey, thus enabling me to grow on both a professional and personal level. Her guidance and constructive feedback are invaluable as she has a knack for “pushing just the right buttons,” empowering me to refine my ideas and to develop my own strengths and personal attributes.
- Teaching interests
Following my early career as a language teacher (German and French) in secondary school, I have taught across many of the programmes within the School of Education, ranging from the BA in Education, Culture and Childhood to the PGCE and iPGCE, multiple MA Programmes, including the Caribbean and Malta Programmes, and the EdD programme.
I enjoy working with students across all levels of study, and I gain particular pleasure from facilitating students to follow their interests - luckily, most programmes in the School of Education are designed to encourage the focus on emerging interests, and I think it is a privilege to work with students as they discover an aspect of education they feel strongly about and wish to pursue further.
I direct the iPGCE and the MA Applied Professional Studies in Education (online), both of which attract students working in international contexts.
- Professional activities
- Referee for multiple academic journals, including "Innovation in Learning and Teaching", "Journal of Early Childhood Research", "Language Matters", "International Journal of Educational Research" and others
- Consultant for ELINET (European Literacy Policy Network) – advising on final project outputs
- Membership of Research Networks: “Social and Affective Factors in Home Language Maintenance and Development” and "Learner Autonomy"
- Invited expert reviewer for Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)