Bilingualism Matters in Luxembourg

Bilingualism Matters Luxembourg launches on Friday 5th March 2021. The branch will be hosted by the University of Luxembourg Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. The Director is Dr Claudine Kirsch, Associate Professor in Languages, who is joined by a team of active researchers on multilingualism from social, educational and psychological perspectives. The branch aims to:

  • Generate high-quality research in the field of multilingualism in a range of disciplines and across disciplines
  • Provide scientific knowledge, information and advice to teachers, educators, university lecturers, parents, health and other professionals, managers in multilingual organizations, researchers, as well as policy-makers
  • Inform attitudes towards multilingualism of parents and professionals in education and public sectors
  • Promote multilingual education at home as well as in formal and non-formal education sectors
  • Facilitate the creation of materials to support the development of multiple languages and literacies in a range of contexts
  • Raise awareness of the role of multilingualism and multiculturalism in teaching and learning

The BM Luxembourg website will be launched soon – keep an eye on our social media and website for updates. In the meantime you can contact the team using this email address

See the full list of Bilingualism Matters branches around the world here.

Looking for Gaelic-speaking children to take part in research

A research team from the University of Edinburgh is looking at how bilingual children learn Gaelic and English and which areas of the languages are hard for them. The project is investigating how children in Gaelic-medium education (GME) in Scotland learn Gaelic in order to identify areas of difficulty for children with typical development and for those at risk of language impairment in these schools.

The study is looking to recruit children from Primary 2 to Primary 5 with typical development or whose parents, teachers and/or Additional Support Needs Co-ordinators (ASNCOs) have expressed concerns about their language development in their dominant language (be it English or Gaelic). The study is being conducted online by video conference during a time suitable for parents and children.

Read the letter to parents in Gaelic and English here (pdf)

Share the project flyer (pdf)

This work is led by Dr Vicky Chondrogianni, our Bilingualism Matters Edinburgh Programme Director for Bilingual Development and Developmental Language Disorders.

If you would like to take part, or would like more information, please contact Catriona

Refugee Week 2020

We had two webinars to mark Refugee Week 2020, exploring and celebrating language diversity, and discussing questions on topics such as home language maintenance, and language and identity. The questions came from the refugee community and from those who attended the webinars. Both webinars were recorded and can now be viewed on YouTube.

Monday 15th June, 2pm – 3pm
Prof Antonella Sorace (University of Edinburgh, Bilingualism Matters) in conversation with Nadin Akta (University of Edinburgh, Syrian Futures Project), hosted by Eva-Maria Schnelten (University of Edinburgh PhD student in Linguistics, Bilingualism Matters volunteer)
Answers to questions that could not be covered during the webinar are available here (pdf).

Friday 19th June, 2pm – 3pm
Dr Katerina Strani (Associate Professor of Cultural Studies, Heriot Watt University) in discussion with Bilingualism Matters volunteers Marianne Azar (University of Edinburgh, MSc In Psychology of Language student) and Maria Dokovova (Queen Margaret University, PhD student in Phonetics)

Thank you to everyone who contributed to these sessions.

Edinburgh Multilingual Stories Festival 2019

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the 2nd Edinburgh Multilingual Stories Festival (EMSF) from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th of November 2019. Around 400 people, including school groups and community groups, came to Summerhall for our annual Edinburgh festival celebrating languages.

This year, we were delighted to partner with the research project Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS) and co-host their UK touring pop-up museum of languages on its Edinburgh stop. The project has created fun, hands-on activities for all ages to explore and learn about languages.

In the run up to EMSF we also had a series of workshops in a local Edinburgh school where pupils learned about bilingualism and language learning research, then created art works based on their own experiences. These fantastic works were on display throughout the Festival and provided a discussion point for visitors, many of whom came to browse for books in our free multilingual book swap.

At ‘Kinetic Reading: Language Learning Through Movement’ children aged 9 to 11 had the opportunity to be led by a professional dancer exploring dance and language learning, in an innovative workshop funded by Creative Multilingualism.

One of the highlights of the festival, funded the ESRC Festival of Social Science, was the talk ‘More than one language: what parents and teachers need to know‘ by Professor Antonella Sorace. Around 50 people attended and there was a valuable questions and answers session after the talk to raise individual concerns.

Photos from EMSF 2019 are available on our Facebook album. The full programme and further details are here.

Keep up to date with plans for next Edinburgh Multlingual Stories Festival by signing up for our quarterly email newsletter, or following us on social media.

Is bilingual education harmful?

Post by Dr Thomas Bak, Bilingualism Matters Programme Director (Bilingualism in later life, healthy ageing & dementia)

The recent article in The Scotsman, in which the Conservative education spokesperson Liz Smith described Gaelic-medium education as a “deeply troubling step” has already generated, as could be expected, a lively and passionate discussion. Much of the ensuing debate has been based on political, ideological and indeed, emotional arguments. So maybe it’s time to bring in some scientific evidence.

Liz Smith’s critique of Gaelic medium education contradicts a huge and growing body of evidence suggesting exactly the opposite of what she was claiming [Read more…]

Prof Antonella Sorace – online & in the news

The founding Director of Bilingualism Matters, Professor Antonella Sorace, gives talks and lectures around the world on bilingualism and language learning. For people interested in attending a talk, but unable to find one in their area, this page links to a few useful articles and informative videos you can find online.

A presentation on the benefits of bilingualism given in Skye, Scotland, in January 2019, particularly for parents who were considering whether to enrol their child in Gaelic medium education, but covering general points from research too.
‘ Why language learning opens the mind: old prejudices, trendy myths, and new research’ – at the 2019 Anna Morpurgo Davies lecture, hosted jointly by the Philological Society and the British Academy.

Online Articles
The joys and benefits of bilingualism – The Guardian
6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education – NPR
Radio interview for the streaming service of the EU Commission – Radio Linguistika – Bilingual matters

Bilingualism Matters Research Symposium 2019

The 2nd Bilingualism Matters Research Symposium (BMRS2019) was held on Saturday 21st September 2019 at the Outreach Centre, University of Edinburgh Holyrood Campus.

Around 80 researchers from around the world attended, giving wide-ranging oral and poster presentations on the latest research into bilingualism and language learning.

Keynote speaker, Prof Ianthi Tsimpli

The keynote speaker was Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, Chair of English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge who gave a lecture entitled ‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: effects on cognition and school skills‘.

Access the final programme here (pdf) for more details.

View photos from the event on our Facebook album.

See all the highlights on the #BMRS2019 hashtag on Twitter.

New Programme Directors at BM Edinburgh

We are delighted to now have seven Programme Directors from across the University of Edinburgh, who will each work with Bilingualism Matters Edinburgh on public engagement projects in their specific areas. Look out for more details in the coming months.

Dr Thomas Bak, Reader in Human Cognitive Neuroscience
Programme Director for bilingualism in later life, healthy ageing & dementia

Dr Ania Byerly, Senior Teaching Fellow in Language Education, Moray House School of Education and Sport
Programme Director for teacher education

Dr Vicky Chondrogianni, Senior Lecturer in Bilingualism
Programme Director for bilingual development and developmental language disorders

Thomas Chaurin, Head of Languages for All
Programme Director for language teaching and learning

Prof Rob Dunbar, Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities
Programme Director for Gaelic

Dr Guy Puzey, Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies
Programme Director for language visibility and Nordic languages

Dr Carlos Soler Montes, Lecturer in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Programme Director for Spanish & Portuguese


Our 2019 Annual Event

This year’s Bilingualism Matters Edinburgh Annual Event took place on Friday 7th June at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. To mark the 2019 UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages, our programme of speakers focused on Scots, sign languages and Gaelic.

The first talk presented insights into the Scots language, as Dr Neil Kirk from Abertay University gave some background along with an overview of his research with “Are we speaking the same language? Hidden bilingualism in Scots speakers“. This was followed by “New sign languages: where do we find them, and how do they grow?” with Dr Marieke Schouwstra from the University of Edinburgh, which discussed fascinating research into the evolution of sign languages. Finally, our director Prof Antonella Sorace gave an update on Bilingualism Matters research particularly as it relates to Scottish Gaelic, and left the audience in no doubt that Gaelic really does matter.

Attendees then took a break from listening and joined facilitator-led themed table discussions, where they were asked to brainstorm future directions for our Bilingualism Matters branch. The themes were art, education, families, health, indigenous languages and migration. The discussions were immensely productive and will help us with our plans for coming years.

Following the animated discussions, the audience were treated to a short theatre performance that challenged perceptions of British Sign Language (BSL). “In Burrows” took us all on a captivating journey, performed in spoken English and translated into BSL.

The final hour of the event was dedicated to exhibitions, posters and informal conversations with refreshments. Marieke Schouwstra brought her 3D imaging equipment for a demonstration of her research; the Deaf Heritage Collective joined us with information on their work communicating the hidden heritage of Scotland’s Deaf culture; Marion from Theatre Sans Accents presented information on the Edinburgh Multilingual Stories Festival; and our own Bilingualism Matters volunteers demonstrated some of the fabulous activities they have developed for our events.

We also had a poster display on a wide range of topics and projects related to bilingualism and Bilingualism Matters, all of which can be viewed here (pdf).

You can check out the full programme (pdf) for more information on contributors and you can see all the photos from the day on our Facebook album.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to making the day such a success. Keep tuned for details of next year’s event!

Art speaks all languages

By Eva-Maria Schnelten

As part of this year’s Refugee Festival Scotland, Bilingualism Matters teamed up with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh Alwaleed Centre and on Friday 28th June 2019 presented an exhibition of art works created by members of the refugee community in Edinburgh, with a special poetry reading, all on the Festival theme of “Making Art, Making Home”.

[Read more…]