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Bilingual Language Education, its Neurocognitive Effect and Opportunities for Integration. Neuroscientific Research and Language Learning in a Multilingual Environment

Friday, 9 December, 2005 - 16:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Arts and Philosophy
Katrien Mondt
phd defence

The specific societal and educational issues in Brussels concerning
bilingualism lead to the conception of this work. The increased need
to become bilingual in society today, enhanced by the policy of the
European Union concerning this matter, necessitates research
exploring numerous aspects of bilingualism and bilingual education.
This subject can be studied from numerous points of view, such as
the societal impact of bilingualism, the attitudes and motivations of
language learners, the economical impact of multilingualism, the
pedagogical improvement of language teaching, or the integration
of people in multicultural societies.

This work is involved with the individual’s bilingualism, and
more precisely with the neurocognitive functioning of bilingual and
monolingual children. From an educational point of view it was
interesting to assess neurocognitive function of children. In primary
school, a number of cognitive and linguistic faculties have already
matured substantially, but are nevertheless still developing. The
influence of a number of contextual variables related to bilingualism
can thus be assessed while developing. Neurocognitive functioning
is not a new research domain, but innovative techniques have
enabled an entirely new research domain known as functional
neuroimaging. A number of techniques allow a researcher today to
investigate brain mechanisms underlying specific linguistic or
cognitive activity in vivo. Although it still consists mainly of indirect
measurement, the understanding of mechanisms in the mind/brain
has advanced substantially by the introduction of these methods.

This research project was funded by the Brussels Capitol
Region and the functional magnetic resonance research was
conducted at the MR Unit of the Erasmus Hospital of the Université
Libre de Bruxelles.