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Seminar on Multilingualism

20 July 2017

On Tuesday, 27 June 2017, Mr Paddy Blaney and Dr Seán Mac Corraidh attended a seminar and partook in a discussion organised by the Languages Branch of the Department of Communities in the MAC Building in Exchange Street, Belfast.

The purpose of the seminar was to discuss how multilingualism can empower individuals and transform societies. The event discussed the benefits, including delaying the early onset of dementia, of speaking more than one language and how this can help improve health and community development. It also aimed to highlight the positive role languages can play in social cohesion in the north of Ireland.

To that end, the interested parties were addressed by academics from Cambridge, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Edinburgh who outlined the various strands involved in the ongoing MEITS (Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies), an international research project which aims to highlight the positive impact of bilingualism and multilingualism on individuals and on society as a whole. Prof Wendy Ayres-Bennett from Cambridge University gave an overview of the aims and objectives of MEITS, followed by Prof Thomas Bak from the University of Edinburgh who discussed the positive impacts of bilingualism on cognitive health. Prof Micheál Ó Mainnín from Queen’s University Belfast discussed how linguistic diversity could aid social cohesion in the local context.

The talks were then followed by questions and discussion.
 


In the picture are Mr Paddy Blaney and Dr Seán Mac Corraidh of St Mary’s University College, Belfast in the company of Professor Thomas Bak from the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at University of Edinburgh. Professor Bak spoke on the benefits of bilingualism for the individual in terms of cognitive functions across lifespans and in diseases such as stroke and dementia.

A lively discussion then ensued on the wide range of research disciplines and perspectives on the subject of multilingualism and the associated benefits for individuals and society generally.   

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