ELLRA is the acronym for the Early Language Learning Research Association. As an international association, we support scholarly cooperation and the dissemination of research in early language learning. This encompasses the learning of two or more languages by children (2 - 12 years old), and the teaching of additional languages to these age groups.

The trend towards learning and teaching additional languages (i.e., foreign, second, minority, home) from an increasingly early age continues in schools worldwide during the 21st century. The majority of educational systems globally have either introduced additional languages in primary schools or are considering doing so in the near future. We are also witnessing the growth of pre-school provision for additional languages in many countries. Substantially more research is needed to help clarify our understandings of what is achievable with early language learners and in what conditions learning can be effective.

Vision & Mission

ELLRA’s vision is to provide opportunities for the early language learning research community to inquire, innovate and inspire others.

We will realise this through our mission to further research in early language learning by supporting inquiry and innovation and inspiring our research community to make a difference.

Our key activities include organizing research seminars and webinars for our members, supporting regional and international conferences for members and non-members, and encouraging the dissemination of research through scientific publications. ELLRA’s overarching goals are:

  • to create synergies across research areas concerned with children learning additional languages in school and pre-school contexts worldwide
  • to encourage a comprehensive agenda for research in the field of early language learning

To realize these goals, the Association will:


Provide a platform for researchers working in the area of early language learning, helping them gather and disseminate scientific information internationally.


Promote scientific cooperation and the sharing of resources and ideas.


Establish and maintain contacts with other scientific bodies with related interests.


Create broader awareness of the specificities of early language learning and teaching (especially within formal learning contexts).


Initiate and support the organization of a biennial International ELLRA Conference, hosted by an institution affiliated with Association members.


Initiate and support the organization of webinars and seminars (online or hybrid).


ELLRA is an international association which was first established as a research network within the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA) - the Early Language Learning Research Network (AILA ELL ReN).

Janet Enever launched the ELL ReN in 2015 with the aim of raising the profile of research in early language learning (2-12 years). The purpose was to contribute to the growth of national and regional research groups and to stimulate new research on a range of themes in the field.

The ELL ReN’s two principal objectives were:

  1. to create synergies across research areas concerned with young children learning additional languages in school and pre-school contexts worldwide
  2. to encourage a comprehensive agenda for research in the field of early language learning

Approximately 180 researchers associated themselves with the AILA ELL ReN between 2015 and 2021. During this time, it was supported by AILA, first under the leadership of Janet Enever and then Heather Hilton. After this six-year period, its associated members began the process of federating the network and establishing the Early Language Learning Research Association. ELLRA was officially launched on 15 March 2023, when 70 researchers from around the globe attended the inaugural General Meeting and approved ELLRA’s Statutes and its first Executive Committee.

The ELLRA Transitional Executive Board

January 2022 – June 2023

An ELLRA Transitional Executive Board was elected in January 2022 to establish the Association with the following remit:

  1. to decide on a proposal for the definitive composition and structure of the governing body of the Association (its Executive Board), to be presented at a General Meeting no later than January 2024.
  2. to establish the Association’s digital environment and decide upon an ELLRA logo.

The members of the Transitional Executive Board were:

  • President: Sandie Mourão (Nova University Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Vice-President: Joanna Rokita Jaśkow (Cracow University, Poland)
  • Secretary: Sviatlana Karpava (University of Cyprus, Cyprus)
  • Treasurer: Nayr Ibrahim (Nord University, Norway)
  • Membership Officer: Melanie Ellis (Silesian University of Technology, Poland)
  • Board Member / Membership working group: He Sun (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
  • Communications Director: David Valente (Nord University, Norway)
  • Board Member / Communications working group: María-Jesús Inostroza (University of Concepcion, Chile)
  • Board Member / Sponsorship working group: Yan Zhu (Fudan University, China)