Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory & Practice
Research within the centre is centred around five research themes;
Electrophysiology enables us to observe the activity produced by the human brain at the surface of the scalp and informs us on both conscious and unconscious mental operations every thousandth of a second.
The research questions addressed by this group are:
A. Bilingualism and language development
1. How does bilingualism develop in the human brain?
2. How are semantic associations between words and concepts established in the bilingual mind?
B. Language interference in late adult bilinguals
1. What is the mechanism by which bilingual individuals access the meaning of words in one of their languages?
2. How do they minimize interference of their other language in comprehension and production.
The theoretical focus of this group is to study the interactions between bilinguals' two languages and between bilinguals' linguistic knowledge and categorisation. A more practical goal is to promote the development of proper assessment tools for bilingual populations.
Theoretical questions to be addressed include the following:
1. What is the relationship between the two languages in bilingual speakers' acquisition of and use of morpho-syntax?
2. What factors contribute to the acquisition of, use of, and processing of linguistic and non-linguistic categories, especially where the two languages offer distinct solutions?
3. To what extent is the process of acquisition and the ultimate relationship between the two languages in a bilingual speaker dependent on the language "balance" and language experience?
This group will seek to gain a greater understanding of how bilingual individuals in a variety of communities manage both their languages within the same conversation.
The questions we shall ask include:
1. Do bilinguals in different types of communities handle their two languages in different ways in conversation?
2. How do social variables such as class, age and gender affect the way people handle their two languages in informal conversations?
The data used for this study will be of two kinds:
(a) data already available in a developing international archive, Talkbank/BilingBank or collected by other researchers;
(b) data collected specifically for this research programme.
This group has two streams of activity. First, it will research dual language use in bilingual classrooms in Wales, and secondly, it will examine minority language use in much detail in a specific North-Wales bilingual community.
A. Bilingual education – a research project in three stages:
1. surveying and observation of existing classroom practice leading to an initial typology of language allocation;
2. consultation with practitioners and advisers as to optimally effective language allocation strategies;
3. production of training materials.
B. A linguistic ethnography – language in life and work in Caernarfon:
This project will provide an ethnographic description of the town of Caernarfon with the aims of identifying the uses of Welsh and English in home, leisure and workplace language practices, thus examining how this sociolinguistic context impacts upon children and their parents/carers in terms of life choices and education.
This group seeks to understand how bilinguals manage two (possibly competing) sound systems, including stress, intonation and rhythm. The research questions addressed include:
1. What is the nature and direction of interference between the sound
systems of bilinguals at the segmental and suprasegmental level?
2. How do bilinguals switch between two (or more) sound systems?
3. What factors make late adult bilinguals sound foreign?
We will base our findings on specifically recorded speech corpora, on already existing corpora (such as the European Sciences Foundation L2 Database), as well as on data collected in experimental set-ups.