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…]

Talk at the British Academy

A recent lecture by Prof Antonella Sorace at the British Academy in London is now available online: Why language learning opens the mind: old prejudices, trendy myths, and new research.

More details are available on the British Academy website.

Bilingualism Matters Research Symposium 2019

Saturday 21st September 2019, 09:00 to 17:45
Venue: Outreach Centre, University of Edinburgh Holyrood Campus, EH8 8FP

Registration Open

Register for BMRS2019     Outline Programme (pdf) 

Background

Bilingualism Matters is a research and information centre at the University of Edinburgh, founded and directed by Professor Antonella Sorace. Established in 2008, Bilingualism Matters aims to bridge the gap between research and different sectors of society, enabling people to make informed professional or personal decisions on bilingualism and language learning across the lifespan that are based on facts, rather than prejudice or misconception. We engage with different sectors of society, with the primary aim to benefit the general public. Through this engagement, BM draws inspiration, accesses data and receives feedback to inform ongoing and future academic work, research and teaching.

The model developed by Bilingualism Matters has attracted international interest and collaborations. We now head a growing international network of 26 Bilingualism Matters branches across Europe, the USA and Asia, each with its own unique context and specialist knowledge.

Our Annual Research Symposium aims to provide an opportunity for researchers from across our Bilingualism Matters international network and beyond to come together to share and exchange ideas on any aspect of bilingualism, with a focus on dissemination potential beyond the academic world.

Important Dates

10 May 2019 – Submissions open
31 May 2019 – Submissions close
19 June 2019 – Notification of acceptance
29 July 2019 – Registration open (£10 students; £30 others; Bilingualism Matters branch members free)
21 September 2019 – Symposium

Call for submissions – NOW CLOSED

Presentations should be for an academic, interdisciplinary audience, avoiding specialist jargon. We are interested in receiving proposals for presentations and posters on any aspect of bilingualism, including, but not limited to:

  • typical and atypical child bilingualism
  • adult language learning and lifetime bilingualism
  • cognitive effects of bilingualism and other types of experience
  • bilingualism and bidialectalism
  • bilingualism and social cognition
  • the neurolinguistics of bilingualism
  • bilingual education
  • bilingualism and policy
  • sociological and social aspects of bilingualism

Our panel of expert reviewers will choose abstracts for 20-minute talks and posters, based on the following criteria:

  1. Rigour of research
  2. Originality of research
  3. Clarity of expression and coherence
  4. Social relevance

Submission Format

  • Abstracts should be max. 300 words in Arial (11 point), excluding tables and references.
  • Additional max. 50 words in same document is required describing how your research is relevant to the needs of the general public, policy makers or professionals (health, education etc.)
  • These should be submitted on one A4 page.
  • Figures, tables, examples and references can be on a second page.
  • Document to be uploaded in pdf format.

Submit anonymous abstracts to Easychair at the following link: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=bmrs2019

Indicate a preference for oral or poster presentation, and provide up to five keywords. The application will ask for the title, the name(s) of author(s) and their affiliation(s) separately and submissions to the panel will be anonymised.

Contacts

If you have any questions or require further details please contact us by email: bilingualism-matters@ed.ac.uk

A very multilingual festival

Bilingualism Matters was a co-organiser of the first Edinburgh Multilingual Stories Festival in December 2018. In the run-up to the festival, throughout October and November, our researchers were visiting schools and community groups with artists in the fields of music, theatre, dance and visual arts, exploring together how to express what languages mean in our lives.

The Festival itself ran over three days, from Friday 30th November to Sunday 2nd December, with a packed programme you can read all about here. Some of the highlights included the three ‘scratch night’ performaces (by musician Roberto Cassani, theatre group led by Daniel Orejon and dancer Farah Saleh); the visual art installation by Elina Karadzhova; the mulitilingual ceilidh and multilingual silent disco; the multilingual book swap; and a whole selection of entertaining, enjoyable and informative workshops and activities on the theme of languages.

Feedback from the Festival was very encouraging, and organisers have been delighted to share the joys and lessons of their experience at events such as the University of Edinburgh Creative Learning Festival, and the SATEAL (Scottish Association for Teaching English as an Additional Language) Conference.

But don’t worry if you missed it! Plans are underway for the next Festival, dependent on funding. In the meantime, you can experience some of the magic in the video above and check out the wonderful Facebook album of photos.

EMSF 2019 Project Team & Partners: Theatre Sans Accents (Marion Geoffray); Bilingualism Matters at the University of Edinburgh (Ania Byerly, Katarzyna Przybycien, Christy Brewster & Antonella Sorace); Polish Cultural Festival Association (Lidia Krzynowek)

EMSF 2019 Festival Partners: French Institute for Scotland, The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh,  Edinburgh & Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC), Assembly Roxy & The City of Edinburgh Council.

Multilingualism is not a curse

Dr Sadie Ryan from Glasgow University has been busy making headlines with her language research findings in the last few months. Her work has been featured in the Scotsman, “Scots is a language and not ‘slang’ – Alistair Heather” and in the Conversation, “Fitting in: why Polish immigrant children say ‘aye’ to the Glasgow vibe“. It was great to get a preview of her research at our Bilingualism Matters Research Symposium last year and see how it’s taken off since then.

Sadie also produces an interesting and informative podcast series called Accentricity, in which she examines the eccentricities of language and identity. Here are a couple of episodes not to be missed!

Multilingualism is Not a Curse: Part 1
‘Multilingual societies should be regarded as an opportunity, rather than as a set of problems to solve.’ – Antonella Sorace

Having more than one language is good for lots of obvious reasons, but also some which are not so obvious. This is an episode about multilingualism: why it’s a blessing and not a curse.

Multilingualism is Not a Curse: Part 2
‘For me, linguistic diversity is absolutely amazing, and it’s incredibly persistent. Diversity persists, despite the many attempts for us to all just speak one language.’ – Alison Phipps

Why is that despite all of the evidence that using multiple languages is good for you, multilingualism is still sometimes treated with suspicion? In this episode, I examine the concept of verbal hygiene, and how the policing of linguistic borders affects the lives of multilingual speakers in the UK.

You can follow the podcast on social media:
@accentricitypod on Twitter
@accentricitypod on Instagram
@accentricitypod on Facebook

Radio Linguistika interview

Antonella Sorace was interviewed about bilingualism research, Bilingualism Matters and the EU funded project AThEME, by Radio Linguistika on the streaming service of the European Commission. Listen to the full interview:

https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/radio-linguistika-bilingual-matters

Connecting New Scots – The Importance of Languages

Post by Eva Hanna

With the recent launch of the New Scots Connect, which establishes a Scotland-wide network of local communities, groups, and organisations to enhance the welcoming environment for refugees, we had an opportunity to reflect on the Bilingualism Matters event that was part of the Scottish Refugee Festival in June 2018. [Read more…]

10th Anniversary Celebrations – 7th September 2018

In 2018, Bilingualism Matters celebrates 10 years of public engagement activities helping people to make decisions about bilingualism and language learning based on the best available evidence. Founded in 2008 by Prof Antonella Sorace at the University of Edinburgh, it has grown from a one-person local service to an international network of over 20 branches based in 13 countries around the world.

To mark this special occasion, we organised the first Bilingualism Matters Research Symposium, which aimed to provide an opportunity for researchers in and around Edinburgh and from across the Bilingualism Matters international network to come together to share and exchange ideas on any aspect of bilingualism, with a focus on dissemination potential beyond the academic world.

Following on from the Symposium, we invited our stakeholders from the community to join us for our special 10th Anniversary Annual Event. The event was launched by the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Peter Mathieson, and featured a range of informative talks covering topics such as Gaelic medium education, British Sign Language, a history of Bilingualism Matters, and an overview of research into bilingualism over the last 10 years.

All the photos from both events and the full programmes are available to see at the links below.

10th Anniversary Events Facebook Photo Album  BM Research Symposium Full Programme (pdf)  BM 10th Anniversary Annual Event Full Programme (pdf)

Are Refugee Languages Welcome? The Critical Role of Refugee Languages in Integration

Refugee languages are often viewed as an obstacle to integration. For refugees, however, they provide a source of continuity at a time of great upheaval and disruption, and can play a key supporting role in learning the new country’s language. For the host country, the languages that refugees bring with them are a rich and untapped resource.

As part of Refugee Festival Scotland 2018 in June, Bilingualism Matters was delighted to present an expert talk by Professor Antonella Sorace on the value of bilingualism, video testimonials from refugee learners, an overview of the ‘Moving Languages’ app from Dr Katerina Strani, followed by questions, discussions and time for networking.

We’re currently putting together a short event summary document which will posted here shortly.