Bilingualism Matters with ‘Little Linguists’ at Heathrow Airport

This Easter, we worked with Heathrow Airport to promote language learning for children, as part of their ‘Little Linguists’ scheme. Our Director, Professor Antonella Sorace, advised in the development of packs of fun flashcards in different languages, designed to spark an interest in language learning for the thousand of families passing through the airport over the Easter 2017 weekend. [Read more…]

Irish Gaelic: political football or treasure?

Post by Dr. Mimo Caenepeel

A few weeks ago, a sideways reference in a larger news item about the current crisis in Northern Ireland caught my attention: the newsreader reported that  ‘support for the Irish language’ was one factor in the complex breakdown of relations between Sinn Féin and the DUP. A quick online check gave me a bit more information. Just before Christmas, the DUP’s community minister Paul Givan decided to withdraw £ 50,000 in funding for an Irish Language (or ‘Irish Gaelic’) bursary scheme. Although that decision has since been reversed, Sinn Féin at the time called it ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’.

While arguably small fish in an ocean of news, this struck me as an interesting example of the impact of community language issues, not just on daily life but also on political processes. A ‘community language’ is a language used as their primary language by a community of people on a daily basis. While the number of people in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who claim to have some knowledge of Irish is increasing (especially in urban areas like Dublin), the use of Irish as a community language is contracting; in fact, Irish is expected to disappear as a primary language by 2025. That puts Irish Gaelic (together with Scottish Gaelic) on the list of UK languages that are ‘definitely endangered’. [Read more…]

Not only the quantity matters: the importance of quality of input in language development

Sharon Unsworth talks about linguistic input in bilingual development

Post by Michela Bonfieni

Last week, the Linguistic Circle at the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences (PPLS) at the University of Edinburgh hosted a talk by Sharon Unsworth, Associate Professor of Second Language Acquisition at the Radboud University, the Netherlands. Born in Lancashire, Unsworth completed her PhD in Utrecht with a dissertation on the differences between adults and children in language acquisition. Aside from teaching, she is now the head of a research project exploring the cognitive and developmental aspects of multilingualism.

Sharon Unsworth’s research is aimed investigating which factors contribute to the successful acquisition of two or more languages in childhood. [Read more…]

Workshop: The selectivity of native language attrition

Venue: University of Edinburgh
Date: 13-14 October 2017

Bilingualism Matters at the University of Edinburgh is pleased to host this two-day workshop “The selectivity of native language attrition” as part of the ESRC-funded First Language Attrition Seminar Series (ES/M001776/1) led by Monika Schmid (University of Essex).

Meeting Description

Very broadly, language attrition can be defined as changes in a speaker’s native  language (L1) as a result of increased use of another language (L2). Among the most intriguing questions in research on bilingualism is the selectivity of L1 attrition in first-generation speakers. What exactly changes in the L1?  Why are some linguistic properties more vulnerable than others to change under conditions of diminished exposure and use? Are these the same properties that are variable in heritage speakers, who may have experienced language attrition at an earlier age? An understanding of the relationship between L1 attrition and L2 acquisition in late bilinguals can advance our understanding of language and cognition in multilingualism.

We invite submissions on a large range of topics related to the relationship between L1 attrition, heritage languages, and generational/diachronic change. Submissions from a variety of backgrounds are welcome, such as linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and cognitive neuroscience.

Confirmed Invited Speakers

Kinsey Bice (Penn State University)
Laura Dominguez (University of Southampton)
Janet Grijzenhout (Universität Konstanz)

Important Dates

Abstract submission:               1 March – 2 May 2017 (extended)
Notification of acceptance:    15 May 2017
Early bird registration:            1 September – 10 October 2017
Seminar:                                    13–14 October 2017

Organizing committee

Antonella Sorace (University of Edinburgh, Bilingualism Matters)
Roumyana Slabakova (University of Southampton)

Call for Papers

A panel of expert reviewers will choose abstracts for talks (30-minute talks, 20 minutes presentation plus 10 minutes discussion) and posters. Abstracts should be 500 words in Times New Roman (12 point), excluding tables and references, on one A4 page. Figures, tables, examples and references can be on a second page. Please submit anonymous abstracts to EasyChair at the following link:
https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=sila2017
Indicate a preference for oral or poster presentation. The application will ask for the title, the name(s) of author(s) and their affiliation(s) separately.

Bilingualism Matters in Frankfurt

Prof Antonella Sorace is in Frankfurt today to give a talk entitled “Bilingualism: An Investment for Life”, at Goethe University Frankfurt.

Bilingualism Matters Network Dissemination Meeting in Trento, September 2016

 

Trento_Group

On the 13th and 14th of September 2016, researchers from Bilingualism Matters branches around the world came together in Trento, Italy, for the dissemination network meeting ‘Engaging in research on bilingualism’. [Read more…]

Interview on NPR – benefits of bilingual education

Bilingualism Matters Director Professor Antonella Sorace has been interviewed by US media organisation NPR (National Public Radio) for a piece on some of the potential brain benefits of bilingual education. The six areas discussed are: attention; empathy; reading; school performance and engagement; diversity and integration; and protection against cognitive decline and dementia.

Read all about it on the NPR website: 6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education.

New branch opening in Trondheim, Norway

Trondheim Logo

We are delighted to welcome a new branch in Trondheim, Norway, to the growing international network of Bilingualism Matters. The Trondheim branch is based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and will be working in partnership with the established Norwegian branch in Tromsø, under the name of Flere språk til flere. [Read more…]

Thomas Bak on Public Radio International (PRI)

Earlier this month in the USA, the people of California voted to overturn the historic ban on bilingual education within their state.

In an interview with Public Radio International (PRI), Thomas Bak, Deputy Director of Bilingualism Matters in Edinburgh, shares research findings that may have helped changed attitudes to bilingualism and bilingual education. Find it at 28 to 33 minutes below.

Read about it on the PRI site.

New staff & recent events

Staff Changes

The Bilingualism Matters team at the University of Edinburgh welcome two new members of staff, following the departure of Research Co-ordinator, Madeleine Beveridge, earlier this year. We would like to thank Madeleine for all her dedication and achievements over the years she worked with Centre. Taking over her role, in a new format, we now have two part-time members of staff. [Read more…]