Contributions of Multilingualism and Bilingual Education to Applied Linguistics Research

by John Wayne dela Cruz

Plurilingual Lab and Concordia University’s Department of Education hosted Dr. Michal B. Paradowski’s talk on Multilingualism and Bilingual Education last October 25. The free event gathered a roomful attendance by department professors and students in the Applied Linguistics (MA, PhD) and the TESL (BEd) programs, friends and family. Using a survey of past and current research in applied linguistics and second language acquisition, Dr. Paradowski focused on elucidating the truths about some of the popular myths surrounding bi and multilinguals.

While much research debunking these myths have been around for many years, certain myths still persist, especially in language education. Some of the main take-aways from the talk include:

  • MYTH 1: Multilingual acquisition must start from childhood/bilingualism in children means true adult bilingualism.

TRUTH: Later age onset is not an excluding factor; 1 in 4 adult bilinguals retain productive proficiency in only one of their languages.

  • MYTH 2: Bilingualism means equal native-like command on both languages.

TRUTH: Functional plurilingualism – unbalanced proficiency between languages is normal and expected, and is highly context dependent.

  • MYTH 3: Childhood bilingualism is detrimental to linguistic/cognitive development and performance.

TRUTH: Bi/multilinguals outperform monolinguals in a number of cognitive and non-linguistic tasks. Although it is true that bi/multilingual children can be a bit behind in certain lab-based linguistic tasks (by the milliseconds!), this lag is not noticeable in daily production, they eventually catch up to and even acquire larger linguistic repertoires than monolinguals.

  • MYTH 4: Childhood bilingualism can lead to language deficit impairment.

TRUTH: As previously stated, this is false. Further, on the topic of disorders, bi/multilingualism have been strongly correlated to delays in dementia onset by 4-4.5 years, and to lower risks of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Plurilingual Lab’s members thank Dr. Padowski for coming and giving this talk.

To our followers, we hope to see you in our next event!

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