The Reading Brain: Bilingual Learners

Learning to read change’s mind and brain. Young bilingual learners vary in their proficiency and experiences of learning to read across their two languages. This natural variation in bilingual learning provides a unique lens for uncovering universal, language-specific, and proficiency-related plasticity in learning to read. In this talk, I will discuss our groups’ research with young Chinese-English and Spanish-English bilinguals, using both behavioral as well as neuroimaging (fNIRS) measures. Spanish is an alphabetic language with predictable sound-to-print mappings whereas Chinese is a character-based language with predictable meaning-to-print mappings. Comparisons between bilingual child learners of structurally distinct languages have revealed cross-linguistic influences as well as bilingual transfer effects in children’s literacy and neural organization for learning to read. We discuss our findings through theoretical perspectives that aim at explaining literacy across languages, across learners, and in relation to early-life experiences and neural plasticity.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

10:35 PDT
11:35 MDT
13:35 EDT
14:35 ADT
18:35 BST

Dr. Ioulia Kovelman
Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Michigan