UC Riverside Celebrates Launch of Bilingualism Matters
Riverside, Calif. —The ability to speak two languages is considered a coveted social and professional advantage in an increasingly globalized society. Less frequently discussed, however, are the cognitive benefits that bilingualism offers to speakers.
According to the University of California, Riverside’s Judith Kroll, distinguished professor of psychology and director of UCR’s Bilingualism, Mind, and Brain Lab, people who can speak more than one language develop “mental flexibility” that increases openness to new learning, while code-switching, the practice of alternating between multiple languages in a single conversation, becomes an act of cognitive athleticism.
Kroll, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Covadonga Lamar Prieto, and a team of fellow faculty organizers are set to debut the third U.S. branch of the groundbreaking research program Bilingualism Matters – and the first on the West Coast – at UCR. The effort is funded by a Partnerships for International Research and Education grant from the National Science Foundation.
“What Bilingualism Matters tries to do is take the science of bilingualism and make it available to parents raising bilingual children, to school systems implementing dual-language education, to language educators, and to government officials,” Kroll said. “The idea is to bring together the academic community and the local community of language users and individuals who are engaged in everything from instruction to parental decision-making.”
Kicking off the program’s launch are three days of activities co-sponsored by UCR’s Center for Ideas & Society and the psychology, Hispanic studies, and comparative literature and languages departments.
All events are free and open to the public, although registration is requested for those on Oct. 5 and 6:
- On Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Paola Giuli Dussias of Penn State will present “Knowing a Second Language Affects the Native Language (in Good Ways)” in Interdisciplinary South 1111. Her lecture will explore the consequences of bilingualism on a person’s native language, particularly when it comes to grammar.
- On Thursday, Oct. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sorace will host a training workshop in Interdisciplinary South 1113. Among other topics, the workshop’s two sessions will cover the effects of bilingualism over the life span, common misconceptions about bilingualism, its benefits and disadvantages, the Bilingualism Matters experience around the world, and the myriad ways the program can influence both communities and policy. Parking for the event is free in Lot 1. Parking permits may be obtained at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to campus.
- On Friday, Oct. 6, from 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., a conference at the Alumni & Visitors Center will highlight research from published language scholars — many of whom are based in Southern California — and community participants. Parking for the event is free in Lot 24. Parking permits may be obtained at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to campus.
About UC Riverside
The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California’s diverse culture, UCR’s enrollment is now nearly 23,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.