Research Centre to Look into Learning of Languages

Article excerpt

A pounds 5m research centre on bilingualism will be officially opened in Wales today. The centre at Bangor University has already begun its work into all aspects of bilingualism from studying conversations between bilinguals in Caernarfon and Miami to the first words of infants.

The Economic and Social Research Council Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice will involve international experts in bilingualism from linguistics, education and psychology.

It has 15 new members of staff and is about to appoint two new professors.

Research already begun includes investigating how infants aged between 14 and 20 months attach meaning to words, and the differences or similarities between infants who hear one or two languages.

Education experts at the centre are also studying the best ways of using Welsh and English in the same classroom, while ethnographers are studying how Welsh and English are used in everyday life at home, school, work and leisure in Caernarfon.

How bilinguals unconsciously "understand" the rules of grammar in each language, and whether these influence the other language, is also being researched.

A "library" of recorded real-life conversations in Miami and Patagonia will also be used by academics at the centre to test existing theories about how bilinguals manage to switch between languages. …