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…]
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…]
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).
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)
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
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:
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.
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…]
Prof. Antonella Sorace discusses language learning in Scottish schools
Earlier this summer, Bilingualism Matters director Professor Antonella Sorace travelled to BBC studios in London for a recording of world service programme The Forum. Professor Sorace was joined by bilingual writer Gustavo Perez Firmat, and Professor Ellen Bialystok from York University, Toronto. The three panellists discussed the effects of speaking more than one language on a child’s development and identity. The programme was first broadcast on 30 AUgust 2014, and is now available to listen to online.
Listen to the 45 minute discussion with journalist Bridget Kendall on the BBC site: BBC The Forum
While she was at the BBC, Professor Sorace was also asked to give a one minute pitch for an idea that could change the world for the better. Her idea was simple: a a prenatal belt that plays songs and poems in different languages.
Hear Professor Sorace explain more about how the belt would work, and why it would change the world, by listening to the Sixty Second idea to Improve the World podcast: BBC Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World
If you or your family would be interested in taking part in research at the University of Edinburgh, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Researchers will get in touch with you in due course.
Italian language interview about the benefits of being multilingual
Adam Beck has compiled an incredibly helpful and inspiring list of resources on bilingualism and special needs, with many parents’ contributions about how bilingualism has lessened or alleviated the difficulties inherent to their children’s education.
Check it out here