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Promoting multilingualism and language transmission

16 November 2017

Dr Jonathan Morris and his fellow researchers addressed issues around language transmission within the family and raising multilingual children at a Festival of Social Sciences event, 9 November 2017.

As part of a week-long series of events and activities across the United Kingdom, Dr Jonathan Morris from Cardiff University’s School of Welsh hosted a session on raising bilingual children and multilingual families.

The event was part of the Social Sciences Festival, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and an opportunity to promote and share new and innovative research from across the University in the fields of sociology and sociological policy.

Dr Morris was joined by his co-researcher on the recent report, ‘Welsh Language Transmission Use in Families’, Dr Jeremy Evas. This was a project funded by the Welsh Government. Also presenting on the night was Kaisa Pankakoski, a PhD student in the School of Welsh, and Dr Robert Mayr from Cardiff Metropolitan University.

The event attracted an informed and enthusiastic audience who contributed thoughtfully to the question and answer session following the presentations.

Dr Morris and Dr Evas presented their research on the factors that influence Welsh language transmission and highlighted the conditions that facilitate or hinder Welsh language transmission within the family. They also spoke about the findings of interviews conducted with 60 families. In general, respondents who had acquired Welsh by attending Welsh-medium schools had not considered speaking Welsh to their children. Despite this, they were keen for their children to attend Welsh-medium schools. Dr Morris and Dr Evas suggest that this is an example of intergenerational language donation rather than intergenerational language transmission.

Dr Mayr discussed linguistic development in multilingual children alongside the misconceptions and the impact of learning two languages side by side on linguistics development generally.

Kaisa Pankakoski, who has recently returned from a period of research study in Finland, presented on strategies that families use to promote trilingualism. This is the focus of her thesis as well as a consideration of the social factors which influence language transmission within trilingual families.

Dr Morris said: “We are very grateful to the audience who attended this event. It was obvious that everyone has a personal or professional interest in the topic and it was great to hear their experiences of the acquisition and transmission, within the home, of a number of minority languages. I hope that we will have the opportunity to organise other similar events in the future.”

Read the full report on language transmission by Dr Jonathan Morris, Dr Jeremy Evas and Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh.

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The School is committed to the development of language, society and identity in contemporary Wales through teaching and research of the highest standard.