Titel lezing: Bridging the divide: science and public understanding of bilingualism
Featuring: Antonella Sorace, Paul Leseman, Ellen Gerrits, Sergio Baauw en Marie Steffens
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Abstract: There are both old and new misconceptions about bilingualism. For example, many people still think that early bilingualism makes children confused and puts them at a disadvantage at school. In contrast, research shows that when there are differences between monolingual and bilingual children, these are almost invariably in favour of bilinguals: bilingual children tend to have a better sense of how language works, an earlier understanding of other people’s points of view, and more mental flexibility in dealing with complex information. Some of these benefits have also been found in adult second language learners, both young and older. At the same time, new myths are emerging about supposed brain-enhancing and therapeutic virtues of bilingualism. I will first illustrate the main facts and challenges of bilingualism, and their implications for an increasingly multilingual society. I will then show how the information and public engagement centre ‘Bilingualism Matters’ is enabling different community sectors, in Scotland and internationally, to make informed and realistic decisions on bilingualism and language learning across the lifespan.