A major new project at CASTL, led by Jason Rothman

Jason Rothman has been awarded a huge grant by Tromsø Forskningsstiftelse to conduct research into bilingualism in Tromsø. The project is called HELPING, which is an acronym for ‘Heritage-Bilingual Linguistic Proficiency In the Native Grammar’, and the project has a subtitle, ‘Charting and Explaining Differences’.

The project will run from August 2019 until August 2023, and has a budget of over 25 million kroner (about 3 million euros), and is bundled together with a permanent full-time position in Tromsø for Jason.

The following text comes from the project description:

The primary objective of HeLPiNG is to answer one of the most perplexing questions in bilingualism research today: Why is HLB characterized by such variation in grammatical knowledge and language use when this is not the case for monolinguals? by addressing these equally fundamental secondary objective questions:

  • (Aim 1when and why do developing monolinguals and HSs begin to diverge for the same language?
  •  (Aim 2) at what levels (under what modalities of testing) do HSs truly differ (introducing neuro (EEG/ERP) methods to this question)?
  •  (Aim 3what is the role of the (lack of) HL literacy in explaining (some) observed HS outcomes?

There are three work packages:

  • WP1 addresses the dearth of late childhood data issue, namely that most heritage bilingual research is conducted with young adults at an end-state of acquisition as opposed to development in real time.
    • It is the first methodology to address the developmental angle of heritage grammars with a unique  method that combines cross-sections tested over a 4 year period, capturing at the end data representing 15 years of development.
  • WP2 and WP3 use psycho-/neuro- linguistic methodologies (the very first brain study of its kind).
    • These methods will reveal the depth of “difference” by looking directly at how the heritage language is processed in real time and if predictive processing is qualitative similar in HSs.


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