Our Annual Event 2017

By: Mariana Vega-Mendoza & Madeleine Long

On Friday 12 May 2017, Bilingualism Matters hosted its Annual Event at the University of Edinburgh’s Informatics Forum. The event brought together professionals and researchers from areas such as education, neuroscience, and policy as well as members of the public.

The programme kicked off with registration and networking followed by a wonderful schedule of short talks hosted by Àdhamh Ó Broin. The first talk was by the Centre Director, Prof Antonella Sorace, speaking about bilingualism over the lifespan. Following on, Deputy Directors Dr Vicky Chondrogianni and Dr Thomas Bak spoke about language impairment in children, and bilingualism and ageing, respectively. Robbie Norval, from Lingo Flamingo presented language learning as cognitive training, followed by Louise Glen, from Education Scotland speaking about the Scottish Government’s 1+2 language policy. The last of the short talks was a video of Dr Tanja Rinker, Director of the Bilingualism Matters branch in Konstanz. To close the series of talks, members of the public asked questions to the panel of experts, sparking discussions about topics such as common myths surrounding bilingualism.

Some key points made from the Q&A:

  • The importance of quality of input in language development (read February’s BM blog post for more information).
  • The sooner the better when it comes to teaching the second language to children; there is no need to wait until the child’s first language is fully developed before introducing another (further reading).
  • There isn’t a limited amount of space in the brain for languages or other subjects.
  • It’s never too late to learn a language, and some research has shown that learning a language later in life can even be cognitively beneficial (example).

The day continued with interactive exhibitions and posters made by our team of volunteers and collaborators. Some of the posters featured the following projects:

AThEME
MEITS
SOFT
Bilingualism & Autism
Lingo Flamingo

Finally, the programme ended with a theatre performance on bilingualism by Theatre Sans Accents followed by a multilingual ceilidh organised by Lewis Hou and his Science Ceilidh Band.

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