Workshop on Bilingualism and Executive Function: An Interdisciplinary Approach

18-19 May 2015, New York

Bilingualism Matters researchers Dr. Thomas Bak and Prof. Antonella Sorace joined language scientists and cognitive psychologists from around the world to discuss the relationship between speaking more than one language, and other mental skills such as the ability to focus attention or switch between tasks. These skills are often referred to as “executive function”.

There are many different ways of testing this sort of ability. For example, one common task for children involves asking them to sort cards first by the picture they show, and then by the colour of that picture – ignoring the picture itself. A common task for adults involves asking them to imagine they are in a lift, or elevator. When they hear a high pitch tone they count down one floor, and when they hear a low pitch tone they count up one floor – this forces people to ignore the usual association between high pitch tones and moving or counting upwards. [Read more…]

Code-switching in Italian-English bilingual children

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are looking for children aged 7 – 11 years and who speak both English and Italian on a daily basis. The children will take part in games to shed light on the process of code-switching, or swapping between languages, in primary school aged children.

In recent years, a lot of work has been done to investigate what happens when bilinguals alternate between languages in a conversation (a phenomenon known as “code-switching”. But research so far has mostly been limited to adults. This study will be one of the first to gather data on how children use and perceive code-switching in conversations.

Take part in the study

Bilingual Italian and English children will be asked to play two games in a familiar setting.

In the first activity, children will look at cartoons while listening to conversations in Italian and English; in the second activity, children will describe a series of pictures.

Parents or carers will also be asked to complete a short questionnaire about their child’s language experiences.

If your family would be interested in taking part, or simply finding out more about the study, please contact the lead researcher on the study Dino Selvaggi

Testing will take place in Edinburgh from 27th April to 19th May. Please note that participation in this study is voluntary and unpaid.