Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory & Practice
Brigantia Building, Bangor University
16 November 2007
The Bilingualism Centre was launched at Bangor University on 16 November 2007. Attendance at the launch was excellent with approximately one hundred people being represented from various departments within the University and from a variety of public bodies in Wales. It is hoped to hold a similar event on an annual basis.
Prior to the launch reception a mini-conference was held by Centre members. The programme was the following:
In her introduction Professor Deuchar outlined the main aims of the Centre. In particular, she described how the Centre will provide new theoretical insights deriving from fundamental research but also new practical outputs, i.e. resources and tools for users and practitioners. She explained how the Centre draws together international experts in bilingualism from the fields of linguistics, education and psychology in interdisciplinary research and that it has recruited 15 new members of staff and has appointed two new Professors.
On behalf of the Neuroscience Research group, Dr Thierry described the two main strands of research (developmental and adult bilingualism) that have started. These include investigating how infants aged between 14-20 months old associate meaning to words based on picture-word priming experiments and automatic aspects of semantic access in the two languages of early Welsh-English bilingual adults.
On behalf of the Experimental-Psycholinguistics group, Prof. Gathercole described the key research questions addressed. The group is looking at (a) the relationship between the two languages in bilingual speakers' acquisition and the use of morpho-syntax; (b) the factors contributing to the acquisition of, use of, and processing of linguistic and non-linguistic categories, especially where the two languages differ; (c) the extent to which the process of acquisition and the ultimate relationship between the two languages in a bilingual speaker dependent on the language "balance" and language experience.
On behalf of the Corpus-based research group, Prof. Deuchar announced the project of creating a 'library' of recorded real-life conversations in Miami and Patagonia. This new database will be used by the Bangor group to test existing theories of code-switching, i.e., the observable phenomenon of switching from one language to another within the same spoken sentence.
On behalf of the Survey and Ethnography Research group, Prof. Colin Baker explained how his team is researching the best ways of using both Welsh and English in the same classroom, while Dr Eddie Williams described studies looking at how Welsh and English are used in everyday life at home, school, work and leisure in Caernarfon.
The mini-conference was very well received and followed by a reception with drinks and canapés. A speech was given by Meri Huws, Pro Vice-Chancellor. In particular, she warmly congratulated the team who obtained the funding from ESRC, highlighting the fact that obtaining such large-scale funding is very difficult and therefore very prestigious. Dr Thierry then stepped in to thank Prof. Deuchar for her dedication to the Centre and presented her with flowers. The speeches were followed by a cultural event written by Peredur Davies, PhD student in linguistic and delivered by him and Jonathan Stammers, also PhD student in linguistics. The performance was highly entertaining and warmly received.