MEITS Blog


Why the meaning of all sentences is not clear

by Napoleon Katsos

Someone might say ‘Could you lift that box?’. And you would know if this is a request or a factual question, because they are hoovering the floor or they are your physiotherapist assessing your recovery from an injury. The context in which the conversation is taking place often clarifies whatever is not certain.

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‘Don’t speak to me in our language, when you pick me up from school’

by Dina Mehmedbegovic

Today, 18th December is the UN Day of Migrants. On this day in 1990 UN signed the International Migrant Convention protecting the rights of migrants and their families. It took another 13 years for the Convention to reach the threshold needed for its implementation – acceptance by 20 countries. Its main aim is to protect human rights of currently around 250 million people identified as migrants world-wide. Not many are aware of this date and not many are aware that UNESCO rights of children include a right to education in mother tongue/home language.

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Why limited resource models are of limited use, particularly when it comes to languages.

by Thomas H Bak

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and lifting of travel restrictions, Vienna become a favourite destination for Eastern Europeans keen to buy hitherto unavailable Western goods. My West German friend Wilhelm recalled a conversation with an East German colleague while looking at the frantic markets. “Poor Viennese”, said the East German, “those Eastern Europeans will buy everything and leave them with nothing”. “Lucky Viennese”, answered Wilhelm, “they are doing the business of their lifetime”. Obviously, their comments reflected different economic reality under which they grew up, but they illustrate rather well the general contrast between “limited resource” and “added value” models.

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Multilingual role models: engaging the disengaged

by Katie Howard

“But, Miss, what’s the point?” was a perennial question propelled in my direction – often with uncompromising vigour– during my time as an MFL teacher. A vast array of arguments, many of which have been cogently rehearsed in previous blog posts, can be drawn upon to answer my students’ question; from the vocational to the cultural, the linguistic to the cognitive. But perhaps we should be seeking not only to answer the question “why bother with languages?”, but to understand what compels students to ask it in the first place.

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Education is much more than just going to school and bilingualism is an important part of it

by Thomas H Bak

There is hardly an idea as deeply ingrained and universally shared across academia as the belief in the value of education. Education is a good thing, and the more we can get of it the better. Conversely, lack of education is one of the worst evils. After all, education is our profession, our mission and, to a large extent, our raison d’être.

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Multilingualism: More than words

by Jenny Gibson

Can you be multilingual if you don’t talk at all? The question may sound paradoxical but it is one that I’ve been asked many times in my work as Speech and Language Therapist. Over the years, I’ve encountered numerous people who do not talk or who can understand and use very few words. This includes people who have had a stroke or traumatic brain injury affecting speech and language systems in the brain, as well as those with intellectual disabilities that have affected the language development process from the earliest days of life. Some of these individuals come from backgrounds where multilingualism is the norm and their families are often concerned about choosing the language that can best support communication and the development of new skills.

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Healthy Linguistic Diet

by Thomas H Bak

One of the things that I miss most in the current debates on bilingualism is the lack of interaction between cognitive and social scientists. Both disciplines do important work in this field, but it is very rare that they meet, exchange ideas and discuss their respective findings, let alone develop joint concepts and theories. This is one of the reasons why I was so delighted to be invited by the Directorate-General of Education and Culture at the European Commission for the meeting of the 4th Thematic Panel on Languages and Literacy held last September in Brussels. This meeting as well as the subsequent one in January 2017 – at which I was invited to give a keynote lecture – gave me a chance to interact directly with people coming from very different professional backgrounds, working with different populations and using different methodologies.

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On the effects of bi-/multilingualism

by Mariana Vega-Mendoza

Being part of the MEITS project has provided me with the opportunity to work with a fantastic team of researchers and address the important topic of multilingualism. Taking Europe as an example, it is estimated that over half of the population are able to speak a second language at the conversational level (European Commission, 2012) and this pattern seems to be growing throughout the years. But what are the implications of such trends?

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