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The Multilingual Mind

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MultiMind (The Multilingual Mind)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2020-03-31

Europe has been a melting pot throughout history, resulting from constant waves of migration, as archeological artefacts in most European museums show and recent paleogenetic studies confirm. More recent waves of migration within the 20th century and within the last 10 years due to globalization, local and global conflicts, have led to the establishment of many multilingual communities across the continent. However, most national administration systems in Europe have not been designed with multilingual citizens in mind but operate within a monolingual mode (monolingual habitus) and ignore that a large number of citizens in Europe can communicate in several languages and the benefits and challenges that this diversity brings. Understanding the benefits and challenges of being multilingual is crucial for the education, wellbeing, and employment of all citizens in Europe, it can help the integration of new migrants and refugees and the prospects of European countries.

MultiMind addresses societal challenges and opportunities within the education and health sectors through an innovative research programme that combines fundamental and applied research across disciplines in a range of different social and educational settings. It investigates the influence of multilingualism on language learning, cognition, creativity, and decision making, on brain function and structure, and its role as a reserve in atypical populations using a combination of cutting-edge research methodologies. At the same time, it aims to train a new generation of researchers in world-leading labs using cutting edge methodologies and allowing them to build the necessary background and skills fostering their career progress as independent researchers in academic or non- academic sectors, in an international, multidisciplinary, and multisectorial program on multilingualism.

Multi-Mind adopts a multi-disciplinary perspective with the following five main scientific objectives:

1. to understand the relationship between language learning, cognition, and creativity. MultiMind will investigate the role of environmental, language architecture, and domain general factors on language learning, cognition, and creativity. The outcomes have important implications for language teaching and educational policies.

2. to determine how the properties of the language and orthographic systems affect the way multilingual and multiliterate people process language using behavioural and neuroscience methods. The outcomes have important implications for teaching practices across European countries.

3. to understand the cognitive mechanisms underpinning social cognition, the role of language as a social group marker, how language use affects decision making, and the manifestation of stereotypes. The outcomes have important implications for challenges on migration in Europe.

4. to understand the impact of multilingualism in children with language impairment using behavioural and neuroimaging methodologies and to develop computerised tasks for screening language impairment and dyslexia in multilingual children. The outcomes have important economic and non-economic implications for health and education services across Europe.

5. to address the efficacy of teaching methods and educational activities promoting language and literacy in pre-schools and schools for migrants/refugees, and to identify good practice that meets the needs of students with a migrant/refugee background. The outcomes have crucial implications for the education of migrants/refugees in Europe and for their integration.
At the scientific level, all Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) received multi-disciplinary training tailored to the ESRs' needs (training schools 1 - 3) and gathered expertise in their research field by making themselves familiar with the relevant literature on their specific topics. They wrote their research proposals and nearly all started collecting data for their specific projects, and several ones have presented results at international conferences, workshops and during training events. These activities had to be interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the dissemination and communication front, several dissemination events have been organised by MultiMind (e.g. GALA 2019, COM 2019). MultiMind has also been active in terms of communication to professional audiences and the general public.
The MultiMind web-site includes a full list of dissemination and communication activities, the project flyer, newsletters, media reports, news from the project, blogs, as well as the presentations and posters of the ESRs with their findings.
All projects are ongoing, as well as the training of the ESRs. The findings are expected to bring new insights on the role of environmental, language architecture, and domain general factors on language learning, cognition, and creativity. The project also promises to benefit the ESRs in terms of career perspectives in academic and non-academic careers in the public and private sector within education and health, as well as IT and publishing. It will also allow partners to create a network that could impact on European language policies in health and education, favouring multicultural tolerance within the European identity.
WP 3: Sarah v. Grebmer zu Wolfsthurn (ESR 5), Grazia di Pisa (ESR 4), Jia'en Yee (ESR 6)
MultiMind logo
WP 4: Daniela Ávila-Varela (7), Isabel Ortigosa (8), Sofía González Castro (9),WP-leader Z.Wodniecka
WP 2: Michal Korenar (ESR 3), Dávid György (ESR 2), Sergio M. Pereira Soares (ESR 1)
WP 6: Solange Santarelli (13), Konstantina Olioumtsevits (14), Jasmijn Bosch (15) w/ supervisors
WP 5: Maren R. Eikerling (ESR 12), Theresa S. Bloder (ESR 11), Mathilde Chailleux (ESR 10)