top of page
  • Writer's pictureHLE Network

An expert on multilingual libraries joins our team

December 13, 2022

We are happy to welcome Dr. Sabine Little to our Advisory Council!

What is the HLE Network Advisory Council?

Our Advisory Council is composed of internationally recognized experts in the fields of heritage language education, multilingualism, and non-profit governance. These experts give us non-binding advice about how to best achieve our mission. (See our Organization page to view all members of the Advisory Council)

Does she seem familiar?

You might recognize Dr. Little from our recent FOHLC Europe conference in November 2022. She was on our panel for a discussion about multilingual libraries. You can watch the panel discussion in the video below.

What made her decide to support us?

Our FOHLC Europe conference brings people together who care about heritage language education. Participating in our conference gave Dr. Little the chance to recognize the importance of our activities!

This is what she had to say about the FOHLC Europe 2022 conference and the work of HLE Network:

Thank you for the wonderful conference you organised - it was such a stimulating event, and great to meet so many like-minded people from around Europe. I am looking forward to future events. The work you do is so important, you provide a vital space for heritage language educators.

We want to thank Dr. Little for her kind words and her offer to support our organization.

What does she do?

Dr. Little is a Senior Lecturer in Languages Education at the University of Sheffield, UK, where her work focuses on the links between multilingualism, identity, and belonging. She works holistically with families, heritage language schools, and mainstream schools to better understand the needs of multilingual children.

She aims to improve our understanding of how children growing up multilingually develop their identities, as well as the emotional links to their respective languages. When working with schools, she helps teachers to develop strategies for engaging children’s multiple languages meaningfully in the classroom, to develop their full linguistic repertoire. She also works on literacy development. Some of this work is available on

Dr. Little's other titles include:

  • Director of Education (School of Education) Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

  • Convenor of the Literacy and Multilingualism Special Interest Group, UK Literacy Association

  • Co-convenor EERA Network 31 (Language and Education)

  • Visiting scholar 2022, Khon Kaen University, Thailand

  • Her work in establishing a multilingual children’s library was awarded the International Brenda Eastwood Award for Diversity and Inclusion.

Hot off the press

Dr. Little's most recent publication is The multilingual children’s library as physical and metaphorical ‘space’ within the community: Practical and emotional considerations. In this paper, Dr. Little gives an in-depth analysis of the multilingual section in the main children’s library in Sheffield. She looked at data from how the books were lent out, data gathered during library events, and information gathered from speaking with people involved with the collection.

Dr. Little finds that the frequency with which books are checked out is not necessarily the most appropriate way to gauge the success of a multilingual collection. The fact that there is a safe space for families to maintain their family languages was highly valued by the library users.

While only a case study, this research by Dr. Little shows clearly that the activities run by heritage language programs play a very important role in the emotional development of multilingual children. Dr. Little believes that children benefit from feeling welcome by the library -- and by extension -- by the city.

This research is very relevant for HLE Network, which has helped put together the International Children's Book Collection at Eindhoven Library. In an effort to make Eindhoven an inclusive city, we will continue to facilitate the addition of languages to the collection and help organize joint events, such as the Nationale Voorleesdagen voor meertalige kinderen.

Follow Dr. Little on Twitter @sabinelittle


Other publications

Cunningham, C. and Little, S. (2022, online first): 'Inert benevolence' towards languages beyond English in the discourses of English primary school teachers. Linguistics and Education. DOI:

Little, S. and Little, T. (2022): An un/familiar space: children and parents as collaborators in autoethnographic family research. Qualitative Research, 22:4, 632-648. DOI: 10.1177/1468794121999018

Little, S. (2021, online first): Rivers of multilingual reading: exploring biliteracy experiences among 8-13-year old heritage language readers, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, DOI: 10.1080/01434632.2021.1882472

Little, S. (2020) Whose heritage? What inheritance?: conceptualising family language identities, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 23:2, 198-212, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2017.1348463

Little, S. (2019) 'Great Aunt Edna's Vase - Metaphor Use in Working with Heritage Language Families'. The Family Journal, 'DOI: 10.1177/1066480719833417 - For Green Open Access, see here

Little, S. (2019) '"Is there an app for that?" Exploring games and apps among heritage language families'. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40:3, 218-229. DOI: 10.1080/01434632.2018.1502776


bottom of page