General programme, activity sheet

Saturday 9 September, 2017 12:00 to 13:30

Plenary Lecture

GALA at school

Speaker: João Costa, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

More than 50 years of research on how language comes to children gives us immense insights on how language works, on how language develops, on how language skills can be stimulated, and on how language impairment can be detected.
Yet, education systems absorb very little of the results of this rich amount of information, and language teaching benefits very little from the generative approaches to language acquisition. The purpose of this talk is to bridge results coming from generative approaches to language acquisition with the challenges education systems are facing nowadays.
There is an intense international discussion on the goals of education, critically involving the set of competences to develop in students, the need for education to become more inclusive, and the need to match the 2030 SD Goals as defined by the United Nations.
I will address some of these topics, by illustrating how generative approaches to language acquisition can and should help promote a better education. In particular, I will propose a reflection on the following areas:

a) Language awareness and knowledge of language – grammar as a key area to promote better performance, creative thinking and problem-solving skills. This will be based on results on student capacity to assess the innate linguistic knowledge.
b) Definition of areas of intervention – results on milestones in language development must influence decisions on what to teach, when to teach and how to teach. I will illustrate this with examples coming from the acquisition of dependencies and clitics.
c) Inclusion – awareness on language properties, explicit focus on multilingual populations, and a good knowledge on language impairment is a critical aspect for the design of inclusive policies and attain education for all. Some examples of activities involving awareness on language diversity will be presented. Specific challenges will be presented regarding the interaction between academics and policy-makers, and teachers’ training needs.

Plenary Session