Language transitioning research synthesis

Programme of work

Enhancing evidence transferability

Principal investigator(s)

Pooja Nakamura

Host institution

American Institutes for Research

Other institutions

University of Addis Ababa


February 2020 to June 2021

Project type

Evidence synthesis


Low- and middle-income countries

Research question

This systematic review will synthesise the available evidence on language transitioning from a series of novel angles – including linguistics, psychology, political science and economics –to provide a holistic picture of the role of language in the learning crisis.

Research design

The study uses the systematic review method to examine the role of language of instruction policies on literacy outcomes in multilingual educational contexts in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Data source

Electronic databases and websites.

Policy relevance

Given the widespread multilingualism in LMICs, this systematic review will be helpful for decision-makers to inform language-transitioning policies. The documented strong link between lan-guage and political affiliation, safety and security, identity, social economic mobility and educational outcomes implies that parents and community leaders are also highly invested in what languages are taught to their children. Given that language and education policy decisions impact teacher placement, teacher resource allocation and material development in critical ways, this study will also be highly relevant to teachers and teacher-training institutes.