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

Benefits of language learning – on BBC Radio 5 Live

People are questioning why they should bother to learn a language when apps like Google Translate can do all the work for them. Antonella Sorace was interviewed by BBC Radio 5 Live recently (Friday 17th August 2018) to give her expert opinion on the benefits of language learning in this technological age. Her interview is from the 1 hour 55 minute mark and will be available for four weeks. If you are unable to access the interview, here are just a few of the points she made in the interview.

Language learning is actually very, very good for the brain, this is what research shows. Language learning opens the mind in more than one way, and not just because it makes people aware of other cultures, […] but because it can bring specific linguistic and mental benefits.

For example from a linguistic point of view, learning another language actually facilitates an understanding of how all languages work and this means not only that people who know another language are better language learners […] but they have a better understanding of their native language, English in this country, so investing in languages actually benefits English as well.

And then from a mental, or cognitive point of view, having more than one language means, for example, that […] children can understand from an earlier age that people can have different perspectives and different points of view.

House of Lords Visit

Bilingualism Matters Edinburgh Co-director, Dr Thomas Bak visited to the House of Lords in January to give expert advice on the health benefits of bilingualism to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modern Languages, with his colleague Diną Mehmedbegovic, with whom he has a new website called Healthy Linguistic Diet. This visit is the first time that the cognitive aspects of bilingualism have been discussed by the group. There’s a great article in Polish that you can read in its original language or translate through your browser.

Thomas also featured in a half-hour special of the BBC Radio Scotland programme Brainwaves (click to listen if you are based in the UK), discussing his research into bilingualism. This excellent interview, with science journalist Penny Latin, explores many aspects of his research and how results can and are applied within society, including in his work with Bilingualism Matters. You can find out all about language initiatives Lingo Flamingo and Yakety Yak Language Cafe, with whom Thomas collaborates, and hear details on the latest research demonstrating the benefits of languages in the human brain.
[Read more…]

Thomas Bak on BBC Scotland Brainwaves

I would say language could be part of a healthy lifestyle exactly like physical exercise and having a healthy balanced diet.

Our co-director Dr Thomas Bak featured this week on the BBC Radio Scotland programme ‘Brainwaves’, discussing attitudes to bilingualism and what science tells us about how it affects our brains. You can listen to the programme here:

And also read about his work with social enterprise Lingo Flamingo in a news feature on the BBC website:



2017 Media Round Up

Our Director Prof Antonella Sorace and Co-director Dr Thomas Bak were in the media throughout 2017 giving their expert opinions on all things bilingual. Some of the highlights are listed together here.

You can read all about Thomas Bak’s research showing how learning a language can stave off the threat of dementia in The Times from April or October last year, and also in the Swindon Advertiser. Or you could listen to him on this topic in the HearSay radio programme from August.

Thomas was also one of the language experts who responded to a Guardian article in August that had suggested English speakers have no need to learn languages – read all about it here.

At Easter time last year, Antonella received a lot of media coverage, including in the Daily Mail, for her contribution to a Heathrow Airport campaign encouraging children to learn languages. She also contributed to the fascinating BBC Radio 4 programme, Speaking in Smaller Tongues, in July last year.

For those of you with language (or Google Translate) skills, Antonella had articles in major Italian publications, Sette and Repubblica, as well as in the Romanian magazine Contemporanul. You can read a great interview with her in the online publication The Science Newspaper from September, and read her opinion on the importance of minority languages and plans to revive Welsh in an iNews article from December.

Finally, both Antonella and Thomas took to Twitter in August 2017 to answer questions directly from the public in a special one hour Q & A session. Read all the questions and answers on Storify.

Antonella and Thomas at their Twitter Q & A Session in August

In the news: article in Italian magazine

Professor Antonella Sorace, Founder and Director of Bilingualism Matters, had an article published yesterday in ‘Sette’, the weekly magazine of major Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In the article ‘Smontiamo tutti i pregiudizi sul bilinguismo’ (loosely translated ‘Removing Prejudice Against Bilingualism’), she confronts some of the myths surrounding bilingualism with facts from science.

You can read the article online here.

You can see a pdf  of the print version here.


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…]

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.

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.

Thomas Bak on BBC Radio Scotland

Listen again to Dr Thomas Bak discussing bilingualism and ageing on BBC Radio Scotland: