Dr. Linda Polka, McGill University Bilingual from the start: Variable language experiences and their relationship to vocalization and word segmentation in infants exposed to two languages
Infants' early language experiences play a critical role in their language development. In this talk, I will examine the nature of this relationship in a bilingual context. Two related lines of research will be present. The first line provides a detailed view of language input patterns experienced by twenty-one infants growing up in French/English families and explores how specific Input factors (social context; language context) are related to infant vocalization rates in these infants. The second line examines how global patterns of language experience (monolingual vs bilingual) affect word segmentation in young infants. This work builds our understanding of the factors that shape the developmental trajectory and processing capacities of bilingual infants and informs our basic knowledge of spoken language acquisition.
Dr. Ellen Bialystok, York University How Bilingualism Changes Minds
All our experiences contribute to the way our minds and brains develop, but intense experiences have a special role in shaping our cognitive systems. No experience is more intense than our use of language, so a lifetime of learning and using two languages has the potential to leave a profound mark on human cognition. This talk will review evidence from across the lifespan showing how bilingualism leads to modifications in brain structure and cognitive processes.