10-Minute Talks: More than one language – why bilingualism matters

by Professor Antonella Sorace FBA

21 Apr 2021

School teacher helping young boy writing chinese

The world’s leading professors explain the latest thinking in the humanities and social sciences in just 10 minutes.

Research shows that multilingualism in any languages, regardless of prestige or worldwide diffusion, can provide a range of linguistic, cognitive, and social benefits at all ages. It enables communication with international partners and understanding of local cultures as well as enhancing metalinguistic awareness, focusing, seeing both sides of an argument, and flexibly adapting to changing circumstances. However, as Antonella Sorace outlines in this talk, there are still many misconceptions about multilingualism and this contributes to the lack of language skills in countries, like the UK, that rely on ‘privileged monolingualism’ in English, which can undermine social cohesion and economic growth.

Given what is at stake, it is important to bridge the gap between research and communities to enable informed decisions in society regarding the benefits of speaking more than one language.

The British Academy, working with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Association of School and College Leaders, the British Council and Universities UK, published 'Towards a National Languages Strategy: Education and Skills' for the education and skills component of a UK-wide national languages strategy in July 2020.

Speaker: Professor Antonella Sorace FBA, Professor of Developmental Linguistics and Director of Bilingualism Matters, University of Edinburgh

10-Minute Talks are a series of pre-recorded talks from Fellows of the British Academy screened each Wednesday on YouTube and also available on Apple Podcasts.

If you have any questions about this talk, please email events@thebritishacademy.ac.uk.

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