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International Chair 2024 - Johanne Paradis - University of Alberta (Canada)

Updated: 6 days ago

Starting May 7, 2024, we'll be welcoming Professor Johanne Paradis for a series of four seminars on the theme of "Bilingualism in Children with Typical and Atypical Development".

The seminars will take place on May 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 4pm to 6pm via Zoom :

Meeting ID: 881 2954 6472

Passcode: 699107

Lecture 1:  May 7, 16:00-18:00

Location:  Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition Center, H432, rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris

Early bilingual development and the Limited Capacity Hypothesis

From the mid 20th century until now, much research has focussed on whether learning two languages in the early years would be detrimental for children’s linguistic development. Essentially, researchers have asked if dual language learning would cause confusion and delay in early development, and their interpretations of these findings form the basis of the Limited Capacity Hypothesis (Paradis et al., 2021). In this lecture, I will discuss the research on early bilingual development that pertains to the Limited Capacity Hypothesis with a critical eye and show that learning two languages does not place an undue burden on young children’s development. I will argue that interactions between two languages in development (crosslinguistic influence and code-switching) are more likely signs of resourcefulness than confusion. While research shows that bilingual development is sensitive to the quantity of input received in each language, I will argue that delay is not an appropriate characterization of bilingual-monolingual differences in rates of development. I will end this lecture by discussing recent debates on the use/misuse of bilingual-monolingual comparisons in research, and on deficit ideologies of bilingualism which are inconsistent with the fact that, globally, bi-/multilingual children and youth are the majority.

Lecture 2:  May 14, 16:00-18:00

Location: Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition Center, H432, rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris

Child second and heritage language acquisition in the school years

One of the most common questions I receive from parents, teachers and clinicians about child second language (L2) learners is “How long does it take for them to catch up”?  “Catching up” means being indistinguishable from their monolingual peers.  Another common question is “What language should immigrant families speak at home”? The common-sense belief underlying this question is that the societal language should be used more at home than the heritage language (HL) so that children can learn it faster and integrate into the new society. In this lecture I will discuss research on the developmental trajectories of the L2 and HL in sequential bilingual children. I will show that the “catching up” question is too simplistic because bilingual children acquire different linguistic subdomains at different rates, and can be heterogenous in their long-term L2 outcomes (Paradis, 2016; Soto-Corominas et al., 2020). Regarding the HL, I will show that, on balance, the evidence does not support common-sense beliefs about language use at home, and instead, it shows that maintenance of the HL can be challenging but is beneficial for child and family wellbeing and development of the L2 (Paradis et al., 2021). I will end this lecture discussing how the research on bilingual children indicates that the concept of a “native-speaker” should be problematized and redefined. 

Lecture 3: May 21, 16:00-18:00

Location: Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition Center, H432, rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris

Sources of individual differences in child bilinguals: Going beyond the “usual suspects”

Bilingual children are more heterogenous in their language abilities than monolingual children – this has been found for both the second language and the heritage language. Bilingual children also have more potential sources of individual differences than monolingual children, and some sources, like family socio-economic status, show a more complicated pattern of influence on language development in bilinguals. In this lecture, I will present a model of individual difference factors in bilingual development: child-internal, child-external (proximal) and child-external (distal) (Paradis, 2023). I will discuss the research over the past decade examining the role of these factors in accounting for variation in bilingual children’s language abilities in the L2 and the HL, as well the theoretical and applied implications of the findings. I will show that the range of potential individual difference factors goes far beyond the “usual suspects” of quantity of input and age of acquisition. Finally, this lecture will give special attention to a unique group of child bilinguals – first-generation refugee children - whose pre-migration adversity and mental health and wellbeing are associated with challenges in their bilingual development (Paradis et al., 2022). The global number of child refugees has doubled since 2010, while the number of non-refugee child migrants has only risen 10% in the same period (Unicef, 2023). Therefore, it is necessary to understand more about the language development of refugee children in host countries separately from that of other bilingual children. 

Lecture 4:  May 28, 16:00-18:00

Location: Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition Center, H432, rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris

Bilingual children with communication disorders and the Cumulative Effects Hypothesis

Developmental disorders that impact language and communication development include Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down’s Syndrome (DS). A common belief among parents and professionals (and some researchers) is that dual language learning is too burdensome for children with developmental disorders; that it would exacerbate symptoms of their disorder and cause delays and difficulties in their already compromised language development. This belief is labelled the Cumulative Effects Hypothesis as it assumes that both dual language learning and a developmental disorder would add up to a double disadvantage for a child (Paradis et al., 2021). In this lecture I will discuss research addressing this hypothesis, and I will argue that the weight of evidence supports the opposing view that children with developmental disorders have the capacity for bilingualism. I will also present research on L2 development and individual differences in bilingual children with DLD and ASD, noting similarities and dissimilarities with their typically developing bilingual peers and their monolingual peers with the same disorder. Next, I will turn to more clinically focussed topics. The disconnect between research on capacity for bilingualism and the opportunities for bilingualism for children with disorders will be critically examined, with a special focus on advice to parents, parent beliefs and home language practices and policies. Time permitting, the final topic will be issues in the accurate identification of language disorders in bilingual children and evidence-based strategies to improve accuracy in assessment with bilinguals. 


Paradis, J. (2016) The development of English as a second language with and without specific language impairment:  Clinical implications. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 58, 171-182.

Paradis, J. (2023). Sources of individual differences in the dual language development of heritage bilinguals. Keynote article. Journal of Child Language. 50, 793-817. 

Paradis, J., Genesee, F., & Crago, M. (2021). Dual language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning (3nd Edition). Baltimore, MD: Brookes. [Chapters 4, 6, 7 and 10].

Paradis, J., Soto-Corominas, A., Vitroulis, I., Al Janaideh, R., Chen, X., Gottardo, A., Jenkins, J., & Georgiades, K. (2022).  The role of socioemotional wellbeing difficulties and adversity in the L2 acquisition of first-generation refugee children.  Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 25, 921-933.

Soto-Corominas, A., Paradis, J., Rusk, B., Marinova-Todd, S., Zhang, X. (2020)

 Oral language profiles of English second language learners in adolescence: Cognitive and input factors influence how they compare to their monolingual peers. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 42, 697-720.


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