Manjula Datta is a leading expert in bilingual children’s language and literacy learning and has published widely on the subject. Her book Bilinguality and Literacy (2000; 2007) is a standard text for higher education courses in the UK and beyond. Manjula was a classroom teacher for 11 years in ILEA primary schools before joining the Teacher Training staff at the Polytechnic of North London in 1989, and continued on working as a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Education, as well as BA and MA Education Studies at London Metropolitan University. She has widely contributed to in-service workshops in universities across the country as well as for practitioners in bilingual schools.
The evidence from her wide-ranging research shows there is a fundamental correlation between bilingual children’s language, culture and cognition, and that bilingual children’s higher level literacy learning skills in English is necessarily an intercultural process where they use their ‘funds of knowledge’ (Moll et al, 1992) freely to enhance their literacy skills in English. This is clearly evident in the case studies in Manjula’s book, which also provides positive models for educators and practitioners in primary settings.
“At our peril we forget the considerable variety of experience and the diversity of construction of meaning that is owned by bilinguals and multilinguals” says Colin Baker, in the Foreword to her book. Throughout her research, Manjula was inspired by her personal experience; "It was not until I came to England that I became aware of being a multilingual…. growing up multilingually, I had not thought of my languages as separate entities” (Chapter 1).
Manjula is now a research fellow at the Centre for Multilingualism in Education.
Selected and future publications
Currently, Manjula is writing a novel based on the Caste system in India and women's right to education and freedom of choice, spanning 1930s to the 70s.
She is looking to publish her book as an e-book with additional chapters in the near future.
- Datta, M. (First Edition, 2000; Second Edition, 2007), Bilinguality and Literacy: principles and practice. Continuum: London
- Datta, M and Pomphrey, C. (2004) A World of Languages: Developing Children's Love of Languages. London: CILT
- Baker, C (1998) Encyclopaedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education (Contributed on Individual Bilingualism) Clevedon: Multilingual Matters
- Friendship Literacy in Gregory, E., Volk, D. & Long, S (2004) Many Pathways to Literacy: Young Children Learning with Siblings, Grandparents, Peers and Communities, London and New York: Routledge.
- Times Educational Supplement: published a range of articles, 1998-2008