Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory & Practice
The main theoretical focus of the Centre for Research on Bilingualism is the nature of the relationship between the two languages of bilingual speakers in bilingual communities. The main practical focus will be the implications of the findings for bilingual language policy, planning and implementation.
Research in the field of bilingualism draws on several disciplines, including linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, education, sociology, economics, and political science. Recent years have seen an explosion of research in this area, as a result of which our understanding of the nature of the individual bilingual mind, of language use and development, as well as of the bilingual community, is making rapid progress.
New neuroscientific and experimental studies have revealed far more processing interaction between the languages of a bilingual than was previously suspected, even when a speaker is only using one language at a time. Recent developmental studies have emphasised the positive cognitive effects of knowing more than one language. Work by linguists shows that the use of two languages in the same conversation does not happen at random, but is constrained in ways that we are just beginning to understand. Finally, observational and ethnographic research is now beginning to provide a holistic perspective on the use of two languages and literacies in interaction at home and school. The Centre for Research on Bilingualism constitutes an unprecedented initiative to move forward in all of these areas by combining several different methodological approaches including neuroscientific, experimental, and observational procedures (see our Research pages).
Located in the well established bilingual community in the Welsh-English speaking area of North Wales, the new research centre will have an advantage in providing easy access to bilingual people and will allow an unprecedented concentration of effort on Welsh-English bilinguals as well as offering a springboard into other bilingual communities.
The main objectives of the Centre are:
(1) to increase the understanding of bilingualism world-wide, as regards both the individual and the community;
(2) to build research capacity on bilingualism in the UK by developing a vibrant 'laboratory' for the study of bilingualism in action which aims to serve as a platform for interactions between bilingualism experts and junior researchers;
(3) to develop strong bidirectional links with practitioners and policy makers concerned with bilingualism in the UK, so as to ground research and theory in the needs of those users and ensure dissemination of research findings;
(4) to develop new collaborations between researchers on bilingualism at the University of Wales Bangor and bilingualism experts worldwide.