Child multilingualism – two talks (Nov 4, UiT)

The research groups LAVA and CASTLFish at ISK are hosting two talks on child multilingualism next Monday, November 4, by leading experts Ulrike Jessner (University of Innsbruck) and Elma Blom (Utrecht University, now joining ISK and UiT as Professor II!). All are welcome to attend. The titles and abstracts for their talks can be found below these lines.

The talks will take place at the University Library’s Auditorium (UB 132), starting at 12:00. The first talk will be that of Professor Elma Blom.

Elma BlomHot topics in child multilingualism: What about children who learn a regional language?

The last decades have seen an increase of research on child multilingualism. A part of this research focuses on comparisons with monolingual peers, discussing both domain-specific language development and domain-general executive function development. In these debates, children who speak a regional language are underrepresented. Similar to other multilingual children, regional language learners experience input that is distributed across languages and contexts, potentially affecting their language development. In addition, regional language learners may have to manage their languages using and training their executive functions. However, other mechanisms more specific to regional languages that are related to language distance and degree of language separation may modulate effects of multilingualism on children’s language and executive development. In this presentation, I will delve into these issues by presenting the outcomes of research that I conducted the last five years together with colleagues in the Netherlands on children who learn Frisian and Limburgish, in addition to Dutch, the standard language. Frisian is a language spoken in the north of the Netherlands, whereas Limburgish is a regional language – rather a collection of dialects – spoken in the south of the Netherlands. Two broad questions will guide my presentation: Do children who learn a regional language experience limited proficiency in the standard language? Do children who learn a regional language experience cognitive benefits?

Ulrike JessnerMultilingual awareness: Metacognition in action in multilingual development

Metacognition has been identified as an essential tool for lifelong learning and flexibility. In research on third language acquisition and multilingualism the relevance of metacognition has been discussed in studies on metalinguistic awareness. In the Dynamic Model of Multilingualism (DMM) it features as an emergent property and core component of the so-called M(ultilingualism)-Factor. In a number of studies of the DyME (Dynamics of Multilingualism with English) – group at Innsbruck University the role of multilingual awareness in learning scenarios ranging from kindergarten to secondary schools in Austria and Italy (South Tyrol) has been focused on. Most recently trilingual kindergartens in two Ladin valleys have been added to the differing multilingual contexts. Again, it has become clear that language experience matters in multilingual development.

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