Research updates what's on staff news recent events bilingual parent 

Bienvenu,  Fàilte, ようこそ and Welcome 
to our first Bilingualism Matters newsletter!

I started Bilingualism Matters in 2008, as an outreach initiative to promote the benefits of bilingualism. As well as offering information and advice to parents wishing to bring up bilingual children, we have

Image: Professor Antonella Soraceorganised over 200 events for schools, community groups, businesses and third sector organisations, and featured in hundreds of media pieces on bilingualism and language learning. In respond to demand for our services there are now nine other branches of Bilingualism Matters in Europe, with another five on the way. 


Alongside our work with bilingual families, we have become increasingly involved with language learning in Scotland’s schools, in particular under the remit of the government’s 1+2 languages plan. This policy recommends that every child in Scotland should have access to two foreign languages at primary school – a fantastic commitment from Holyrood. We are currently involved in several pilot projects exploring ways of implementing this ambitious and exciting plan.  

I’m pleased to announce that our work has been recognised with the creation of a dedicated new centre at the University of Edinburgh, bringing with it new colleagues (see staff news) and new challenges (social media, anyone?). None of our work would have been possible without the help and support of everyone who has been involved with Bilingualism Matters over the years, including many enthusiastic volunteers. I'd like to begin our first newsletter by offering a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed over the years. Grazie!


Professor Antonella Sorace 


Founder and Director of Bilingualism Matters



Image: University of Edinburgh logoImage: Bilingualism Matters logo
Breed Bilingual!


Sunday 17 August, 15:40 - 16:40 @ Stand in the Square


Tickets out now
 
  • Wondering about the point of learning a language at primary school?
  • Worried that speaking too many languages at home will confuse you child?
Research shows that learning a language when you're young
can give a range of benefits in later life



Join this lively and entertaining debate to find out more!


Image: logos of Bilingualism Matters and Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

Staff news

 

Research Coordinator:
Dr Madeleine Beveridge                                                                

Image: Research Coordinator Dr Madeleine Beveridge


In May 2014, I started work as Research Coordinator for the new Bilingualism Matters Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

I have recently completed my PhD in Psycholinguistics, also at Edinburgh, looking at how our minds can understand language.

I studied French and German at high school, continuing French at university before working in Japan and learning spoken Japanese.

My experience is therefore that of an (extremely) late second language learner,  and I am passionate about improving access to language learning in UK schools and adult education.

I’m looking forward to working with you all!

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Lecturer in Bilingualism:
Dr Vikki Chondrogianni

 
In August 2014, I left Bangor Univeristy  to become a lecturer in Bilingualism at the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Image: New bilingualism lecturer Dr Vikki Chondrogianni
 

I got my PhD in Second Language Acquisition from the University of Cambridge. I study bilingual language development across different educational and societal contexts. In the UK, for example, I have studied children attending Welsh-medium education, and children from Polish families attending English schools.
 
In the future, I want to keep working with bilingual children with typical development and with language impairment. I look forward to exploring the multilingual situation in Scotland and to seeing whether Gaelic can compete with Welsh, when it comes to creating “little bilingual machines” - that is, bilingual children.
 
 

What's on this summer?


17 August 15:40 -16:40
Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Breed Bilingual


Entertaining debate with Antonella Sorace about the benefits of speaking more than one language.

www.edfringe.com
 

28 August 17:00 -18:00
Edinburgh International Festival: Scotland in the Soft Power era


Discussion hosted by Centre for Cultural Relations at University of Edinburgh, featuring Antonella Sorace.

http://www.eif.co.uk/2014
 

3 September 17:00 – 18:30
Public lecture in psycholinguistics: Professor Pim Levelt


Join Europe's finest language researchers for an open lecture at Reid Music Hall, kicking off the 20th international conference on Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing

http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/AMLaP/programme.htm

Research updates



 

Bilingualism and Autism


Challenge Investment Grant awarded by the University of Edinburgh to Dr Sue Fletcher-Watson, Dr Hugh Rabagliati and Professor Antonella Sorace.
                              

Image: Child playing with toy blocks
 
Families of children with autism regularly approach the Bilingualism Matters Centre here at Edinburgh for advice on raising their child with two languages.

Sadly, at the moment there just isn't enough research about what bilingualism means for children with autism, so we are unable to offer this advice.

This project aims to explore the experiences of bilingual families with children with autism, and to investigate the symptoms and abilities of bilingual children with autism.

The researchers will also be developing new ways of studying bilingualism in atypical populations.

We hope that in future, this research will allow us to advise more families who wish to bring up their child with more than one language.

If you are interested in finding out more about this project, please email
hugh.rabagliati@ed.ac.uk

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image: AThEME project logo

Advancing the European Multilingual Experience (AThEME)




AThEME is a major new EU project studying multilingualism in Europe. The project will last for five years and combine the findings of teams of researchers all across Europe.

As part of this grant, researchers at the University of Edinburgh will be investigating the current status of regional bilingualism and minority languages, the cognitive effects of bilingualism, and dialogue between native and non-native speakers.

Bilingualism Matters will be in charge of communicating the results of the whole project to the general public.

The project includes funding for three PhD students at Edinburgh, including one student who will be looking exclusively at the Gaelic situation in Scotland. The PhD students will begin in September, and we’re looking forward to keeping you up to date with their progress.

https://vre.leidenuniv.nl/vre/atheme/public/default.aspx

Image: EU flagThis project received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development & demonstration under grant agreement no. 613465.

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Postgraduate research


Two students on the University of Edinburgh’s Developmental Linguistics MSc have kindly taken a break from writing up their dissertations to explain their projects.


Image: MSc student Gaby Cahen
Gaby Cahen, from Paris

Project title: “The language effect in affective and cognitive processing: French-English bilingual children’s performance on emotionally modified Stroop tasks.”

What does it involve?: Essentially, it’s about whether or not multilingual children have more immediate access to emotional content in one of their languages - that is to say whether one language is more “emotional” than the other. 

I’m testing a group of French-English bilingual children from Paris, and another group of French-English bilingual children from Edinburgh. I’ll then be able to compare their access to emotional concepts like “happy” in each of their languages.



Image: MSc student Maddie Long

Maddie Long, from Washington DC
 
Project title: “Executive Function, Attention, and Age: Can older second language learners experience the cognitive benefits of bilingualism?”
 
What does it involve?: We know that early bilingualism can enhance executive function skills, like cognitive flexibility, and attentional network skills. However, there’s not a lot of research on whether these skills are also enhanced when people learn a second language later in life.

I am testing mature second language learners on an intensive language course, to look for changes in executive function and attention. I’m planning to continue this line of research for my PhD (starting January 2015), when I will be conducting a longitudinal study of adult language learners over three years. 
 

Research participation


If you or your family would be interested in taking part in language research at the University of Edinburgh, please email madeleinebeveridge@ed.ac.uk for details
 

Recent events

 

Celebration of Early Learning of Chinese project

 

12 June 2014                       Musselburgh, East Lothian


Image: Children performing on stage

Teachers, parents and primary school students from across East Lothian filled a packed Brunton Theatre to watch performances from children celebrating this year’s hugely successful Early Learning of Chinese Project.

The project, coordinated by the Scotland-China Education Network, involves sending native Mandarin speakers into primary 1 classrooms across the region.

Bilingualism Matters is hugely proud to be involved in this fantastic project, which is acting as a pilot for the introduction of language education in primary schools. A huge well done to everyone involved.



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Bilingualism Matters branch opens in Croatia

 

6 June 2014                                          Rijeka, Croatia


Image: Guests attend launch of Bilingualism Matters branch in Croatia

Professor Antonella Sorace travelled to Croatia last month to launch the newest branch of Bilingualism Matters.

The Croatian branch is the first of five branches of Bilingualism Matters that are opening as part of the European AThEME project (see Research updates). Further AThEME-affiliated branches of Bilingualism Matters will be opening in Netherlands (September 2014), Slovenia (November 2014), France (February 2015), and Spain (February 2015). 



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Talk at Edinburgh Hellenic School of St. Andrew

 

1 June 2014                                                        Edinburgh


Image: Eva Hanna at Hellenic School of St Andrew

Bilingualism Matters volunteer Eva Hanna is a mother of two Greek-English children. Based on her personal experience and the research expertise of Bilingualism Matters, Eva presented a community talk entitled “Child Bilingualism: Beyond the Mythology”.

The talk addressed the benefits of child bilingualism, practical issues in bringing up bilingual children, and some of the many associated myths and misconceptions. The talk concluded with a discussion about maintaining exposure to the home language. 

One of the most important messages from this event is that there is no “correct” formula that will work for all families. The important thing is for a child to have as much input as possible in both languages.

Many thanks to Eva, and to all who attended!



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Knowledge Exchange event at Summerhall

 

24 April 2014                                              Edinburgh


Image: Guests in front of Bilingualism Matters video wall

Bilingualism Matters was invited to take part in a Knowledge Exchange event, organized by the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh.

Researchers from various disciplines gathered to explain their research and promote knowledge sharing. Bilingualism Matters has always been about sharing information on bilingualism, so we were thrilled to be represented by linguistics lecturer Dr Pavel Iosad, and MSc students Maddie Long and Ermioni Konari.

Pavel, Maddie and Ermioni spent the evening talking about Bilingualism Matters’ work in the community, and answering questions about bilingualism. A video wall showcased our current projects with primary schools in Edinburgh and East Lothian, recent media appearances, and international research programme. 
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Tell us your news!


Do you have any bilingualism news? Are you organising an event or project?
Email our new Research Coordinator, Dr Madeleine Beveridge to let us know!
madeleinebeveridge@ed.ac.uk 

Bilingual parent

Edinburgh resident Joana Ferrão talks about
bringing up her son to speak Portuguese and English
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Why do you want your child to grow up bilingual?
There are two sides that make up this wish, although they both merge somehow: a practical reason and a sentimental one.

On the practical side I want my son to be able to communicate with my family who can’t speak English, to integrate socially when in Portugal or any other Portuguese speaking country, to speak with me in my native tongue. I also want to give him as many opportunities as possible in terms of jobs, traveling, and having an open mind. The benefits of learning a second language are now being confirmed by research and I want him to benefit from this great opportunity.

On the sentimental side is the fact that a lot of my personal identity is based on a culture of books, movies, songs and food in my native language, and being able to speak that language with my son brings us closer together.


               Image: bilingual parent Joana Ferrão

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
First of all, the biggest challenge is to keep the Portuguese language at the same level as English. Being the only one right now who speaks the minority language to my son on a daily basis, I have to put in extra effort teaching him things in Portuguese that he’s learning in English at nursery. Secondly, but to a lesser extent, is the fact that because I only speak to my son in Portuguese, some social situations can become a bit awkward as almost nobody speaks Portuguese near where I live.




Have you found any solutions or ways of overcoming that challenge?
To help keep up his level of Portuguese, I’m planning to spend more time with my son in a way to balance his exposure to both languages. I go back to Portugal frequently, speak with family and friends on Skype, watch videos in Portuguese, attend Portuguese playgroups, meet with Portuguese speaking friends and go to places where the Portuguese language and culture have a presence in Scotland (Cafes, Restaurants, etc).

When it comes to only speaking Portuguese in social situations, I always explain to the people present (in case they are not aware) that I only want to speak Portuguese to my child. Everyone understands and if needed I always translate what I’m saying so as not to be rude.

What advice would you give to other parents?
Don’t give up on giving your child the opportunity to learn your or your partner’s language. It’s a legacy that can’t be underestimated. Especially now, with the introduction of a second language in primary school, your children will speak three languages easily. It may be tricky at times but in the future, they will thank you for not having given up. 

Here's a sneak peak at our

new leaflet

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Image: Bilingualism Matters leaflet cover


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To request copies, email
bilingualism-matters@ed.ac.uk

  
 

Want to get in touch?


Director:
Professor Antonella Sorace

Research coordinator:
Dr Madeleine Beveridge

bilingualism-matters@ed.ac.uk


http://www.bilingualism-matters.ppls.ed.ac.uk

Bilingualism Matters
School of Philosophy, Psychology and           Language Sciences

University of Edinburgh
Dugald Stewart Building,
3 Charles Street
Edinburgh 
EH8 9AD


0131 650 2884

Image: Bilingualism Matters office in Edinburgh
Copyright © 2014 Bilingualism Matters Centre, All rights reserved.


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