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The University of Southampton
Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Bilingualism across the lifespan: discussing facts and myths

Published: 29 June 2020
/Bilingualism across the lifespan

CLLEAR, the Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research, held a public lecture "Bilingualism across the lifespan: discussing facts and myths" on May 29th 2020.

The lecture was held online via a Zoom webinar and live-streamed on YouTube.

This outreach event presented the ins and outs of bilingualism across the lifespan. The main goal of the event was to bring the study bilingualism and multilingualism closer to individuals who, in one way or another, find themselves surrounded by two (or more) languages in their daily lives. Not all the information available about bilingualism is rooted in facts, but rather constitute anecdotal and impressionistic myths about how speaking more than one language can affect people’s lives and wellbeing. Such (common) misnomers play important roles in determining specific linguistic choices (e.g., should one speak their native language with their newborn child? Should one start to learn a foreign language in adulthood? Should one encourage their students to formally learn the minority language spoken at home).

In this lecture, Professor Jason Rothman, a world-leading expert in bilingualism and multilingualism, discussed the facts and myths about bilingualism as it relates to how languages are acquired and processed, potential benefits that bilingualism might have at the cognitive (mind and brain), economic and social level, the tradeoffs of bilingualism, the local national and global context of bilingualism.

The lecture is intended for anyone interested in bilingualism, but it may be of particular interest for parents, teachers, community stakeholders, as well as language learners of all ages.

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