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Multilingual in Bilingual Canada

Multilingual in Bilingual Canada

The aim of this Working Group is to explore new collaborative links and perspectives on heritage language development and preservation in order to uncover the conditions that are most conducive to enhancing multilingualism in a Canadian context. We will consider what might constitute successful trilingualism in a Canadian context and what factors might contribute to this success. Not much is known about multilingual acquisition in North America even though it has been advocated by various experts (Colin Baker in the UK; Jim Cummins in Canada, etc.). Empirical findings suggest that simultaneous acquisition of two languages (i.e., in infants) sets the stage for successful L3 learning. It is also likely that with two or three interacting languages belonging to the same family, cognates and other typological similarities would prove to be advantageous. Other questions remain: If minority language children learning are cases of subtractive bi/trilingualim would this affect only the heritage language or would the subtracting effects register in all languages? Furthermore, if relatively innocuous gaps exist in a multilingual’s languages, are these simply the natural result of what Vivian Cook calls 'multi-competence'? In light of this possibility, are current language testing methods out of touch with recent brain and psycholinguistic research findings?

Our working group will invite a series of speakers from outside the research domains, including language policy makers, educators, clinicians and social workers (four invited speakers). Given the composition of the group, we will have an equal number of meetings on each of the three University of Toronto campuses.

Rena Helms-Park, UTSC French & Linguistics
Mihaela Pirvulescu,  UTM Language Studies
Maria Petrescu, lecturer, UTM Language Studies

Faculty at the University of Toronto
Susana Béjar, UTSG Linguistics
Craig Chambers, UTM Psychology
Alice Eriks-Brophy, UTSC Speech-Language Pathology
Esther Geva, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Elizabeth Johnson, UTM Psychology
Elina Mainela-Arnold, UTSG Speech-Language Pathology
Naomi Nagy, UTSG Linguistics
Keren Rice, UTSG Linguistics
Jeffrey Steele, UTSG French
Becky Xi Chen, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Faculty outside the University of Toronto
Roma Chumak-Horbatsch, Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University

Postdoctoral Fellows at the University of Toronto
Helen Buckler, UTM Psychology
Inge Alferink, UTM Psychology

Graduate Students at the University of Toronto
Stephanie Coté, French
Mélanie Elliott, French
Caitlin Gaffney, French
Lulu Li, French
Meï-Lan Mamode, French
Matt Patience, Spanish & Portuguese
Maksym Shkvorets, Linguistics
Poh Wee, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Undergraduate Students at the University of Toronto

Anna Harutyunyan, UTM Psychology and Language Studies
Maria Popa, UTM Language Studies and English & Drama
Taeho Lee, UTM Language Studies
Kania Mohan, UTM Psychology and Language Studies
Kathy Leung, UTSC French & Linguistics

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