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Bilingual Child Migrants in a Multilingual Europe

Although European societies are becoming increasingly multilingual due to migration, and children are raised in increasingly multilingual environments, we still know very little about how bilingual and multilingual children develop and function linguistically. We also know little about the socio-economic factors and social attitudes, such as language prestige, shaping language use in migrant contexts. Thus, within Working Group 7 “Multilingual competence and new speaker varieties” we are organising a two-day workshop focusing on bilingual children from migrant families. In particular, it will be devoted to an examination of the bilingual child’s language development in the areas of phonology, lexis, morpho-syntax and discourse. We will also discuss the linguistic identities of migrant families and their impact on home language and literacy transmission practices in these families across Europe.

childrenThe event will bring together researchers from several countries (Cyprus, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Poland, Sweden), but a strong emphasis will be placed on the data gathered from children of Polish migrants to the UK. This topic is largely understudied, due to the fact that the large-scale Polish migration, despite its intensity, is a relatively new phenomenon. The migration wave has begun some ten years ago, after Poland joined the EU in 2004. In the workshop, we will present the research outcomes of two large complementary projects carried out at the University of Warsaw: BI-SLI-PL Cognitive and language development of Polish bilingual children at the school entrance age - risks and opportunities (carried out at the Faculty of Psychology, 2010-2015) and WLRB Phonological and Morpho-syntactic Features of Language and Discourse of Polish Children Raised Bilingually in Migrant Communities in Great Britain (carried out at the Faculty of Modern Languages, 2014-2017). We will also hear about parallel research carried out on other language pairs including Russian.

The confirmed keynote presenters (involved in COST Actions IS0804 and IS1306) are:

  • Prof. Shula Chiat (City, the University of London), UK
  • Prof. Natalia Gagarina (Humboldt University and ZAS, Berlin), Germany
  • Prof. Ewa Haman (University of Warsaw), Poland
  • Prof. Theodoros Marinis (University of Reading), UK
  • Dr Zofia Wodniecka (Jagiellonian University), Poland

The workshop will take place at the Faculty of Modern Languages, University of Warsaw, Poland, Dobra 55, 00-312 Warszawa. It will consist of two parts. Day 1, 16th November 2016 will feature presentations by workshop participants that are open to the general public (students, academics and practitioners working with children). Day 2, 17th November is devoted to discussing future publications by international research teams and future collaboration.

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