Bilingualism Matters International Meeting on 15 November 2017

Members of Bilingualism Matters branches from around the world came together recently in Barcelona for a meeting to discuss how we can better work together, sharing expertise and resources to empower individuals, communities and policy makers to make informed decisions about bilingualism and language learning. [Read more…]

Barcelona Summer School on Bilingualism and Multilingualism

Blog post by Eva-maria Schnelten

In September, the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona hosted the Barcelona Summer School on Bilingualism and Multilingualism, a renowned school for postgraduate students and researchers to gather, present and discuss the newest developments in their respective fields.

A few members of Bilingualism Matters Edinburgh were able to attend this year, promoting their research either in an oral presentation or a poster session.

The overarching theme was, as the name suggests, research concerning bilingualism and multilingualism: ranging from neuro-cognitive factors and the implications for ageing and health to the sociolinguistic development in bilingual children. The talks and posters provided an interesting and broad overview of the work that has been conducted in the field. [Read more…]

Bilingualism Matters in California

Covadonga Lamar Prieto, Antonella Sorace, Judith Kroll

On 2nd October 2017, Antonella Sorace travelled to University of California, Riverside, to open the 17th international branch of Bilingualism Matters. [Read more…]

Myths and Misconceptions in Multilingualism

©iStock.com/Giii

Post by Dr Thomas Bak, Co-director of Bilingualism Matters

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and lifting of travel restrictions, Vienna become a favourite destination for Eastern Europeans keen to buy hitherto unavailable Western goods. My West German friend Wilhelm recalled a conversation with an East German colleague while looking at the frantic markets. “Poor Viennese”, said the East German, “those Eastern Europeans will buy everything and leave them with nothing”. “Lucky Viennese”, answered Wilhelm, “they are doing the business of their lifetime”. Obviously, their comments reflected different economic reality under which they grew up, but they illustrate rather well the general contrast between “limited resource” and “added value” models. [Read more…]

Lost for words? Considering language attrition

Discussions at workshop

Bilingualism Matters is delighted to be involved in ESRC-funded First Language Attrition Seminar Series, which is led by Monika Schmid, University of Essex. As part of the series, we hosted a two-day workshop on “The Selectivity of Native Language Attrition” last week, which delivered interesting new findings in bilingualism research.

The term ‘attrition’ is somewhat controversial, as it refers to the decline in proficiency in one language for bilinguals – their native language. This is a common occurrence for bilinguals [Read more…]

The Importance of the Native Language – Practitioner Day (Birkbeck, University of London, November 10th 2017)

Photo: iStock

Bilingualism Matters is excited to be involved in this final event in  a series of academic conferences and workshops funded by the ESRC.

The Importance of the Native Language – Practitioner Day is on November 10th 2017 from 9:00-5:00 pm at Birkbeck, University of London. This event is part of the 2017 ESRC Festival of Social Science and will be hosted by [Read more…]

Education is much more than just going to school and bilingualism is an important part of it

Post by Thomas H Bak, Co-director of Bilingualism Matters

There is hardly an idea as deeply ingrained and universally shared across academia as the belief in the value of education. Education is a good thing, and the more we can get of it the better. Conversely, lack of education is one of the worst evils. After all, education is our profession, our mission and, to a large extent, our raison d’être.

So it is not surprising that findings suggesting that education can protect against dementia were immediately greeted with enthusiasm. Here we had a tangible proof for the Latin proverb that we are learning not for the school but for life (“non scholae sed vitae discimus”). Admittedly, the results have never been as straight forward as one could wish: in some studies, the education effects were confined to specific circumstances such as rural residence or female gender and the results differed substantially from country to country [Read more…]

In the news: article in Italian magazine

Professor Antonella Sorace, Founder and Director of Bilingualism Matters, had an article published yesterday in ‘Sette’, the weekly magazine of major Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In the article ‘Smontiamo tutti i pregiudizi sul bilinguismo’ (loosely translated ‘Removing Prejudice Against Bilingualism’), she confronts some of the myths surrounding bilingualism with facts from science.

You can read the article online here.

You can see a pdf  of the print version here.

 

What Peppa Pig can teach us about bilingualism (and systematic reviews cannot)

Blog post by Thomas H Bak

Yes, I admit it: I am a great fan of Peppa Pig. Unlike fairy-tales of magic castles and princesses it depicts in an entertaining way real every-day life and teaches useful skills like how to recycle rubbish, how to make peace with your best friend after falling out with her or how to understand the seemingly irrational behaviour of your younger brother. And it is good for languages too: not only is Peppa Pig highly multilingual, available in a large selection of languages. In several episodes, Peppa interacts with people speaking other languages, whether it’s her French friend or the friendly Italians she meets on holidays. I am sure Peppa, like me, would disagree with the recent article by Simon Jenkins in Guardian that for English speakers learning foreign languages is a waste of time (1).

However, a recent Guardian article about Australia pulling off the air Peppa Pig’s “Mister Skinny Legs” episode (2) made me realise how much Peppa Pig is ahead of some parts of the scientific community when it comes to the interpretation of data. [Read more…]

Explorathon 2017 @ Leith Labs 29th Sept

Friday 29th September 2017 is European Researchers’ Night – an opportunity for the general public to discover science, meet researchers and have fun!

We’ll be joining Explorathon 2017 at Leith Labs in Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre, Edinburgh, from 12 noon to 6pm with researchers from Bilingualism Matters and our European partner project AThEME.

We’re going to have lots of fun, language-related activities for all the family, so come along and join us, along with many other researchers, at Leith Labs!