Many people still think that bilingualism makes children confused and puts them at a disadvantage at school. Research, in contrast, shows that knowing another language may give children enhanced metalinguistic and early literacy skills, a better understanding of other people’s points of view, and more mental flexibility in dealing with complex situations.
Professor Antonella Sorace will illustrate these facts through research on bilingual children in both regional minority languages, including Gaelic, and migration languages in Scottish schools. She will also show how the Bilingualism Matters Centre is enabling families, teachers, and policy makers - in Scotland and internationally - to make decisions on bilingualism informed by research.
The presence of these benefits in bilingualism with minority languages crucially depends on positive and supportive attitudes around children, and relies on firm community foundations for inter-generational transmission.
Antonella Sorace is Professor of Developmental Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. She is internationally known for her research on bilingual language development, language typology, and gradience in natural language, which brings together methods from linguistics, experimental psychology and cognitive science. She is also committed to publicly engaged research and is the founding director of the information centre Bilingualism Matters, which currently has 26 branches in the UK, Europe, Asia, and the United States.