Madalena Cruz-Ferreira

9 posts · 1,277 views

I’m a multilingual parent, educator and researcher, with a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Manchester, UK. My work focuses on myths and misconceptions about multilingualism in the home, in school, and in clinic.

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  • April 2, 2017
  • 06:17 AM
  • 188 views

The perfect multilingual

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } In case you’re wondering, let me reassure you straight away that yes, the title of this post is meant to be sarcastic. Perfect multilinguals do exist, of course, though only in the minds of those of us who mistake ideals of perfection for reality. Multilingual perfection awardees must satisfy a number of criteria. If you are, or were, a language learner as an adult, forget it: not having acquired all of your languages as a young child automatically makes you a n........ Read more »

  • March 27, 2017
  • 10:04 AM
  • 74 views

Being multilingual in school

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Schooling nurtures development of academic ways of talking about things. This has come to be called ‘education’, in the sense that an ‘educated’ person is able to use language in this way. Schooling teaches us how, why and with whom our languages can be used to acquire knowledge formally, about history, chemistry, or geography, things that not all of us will have encountered at home, by these or any other names. It also teaches us that knowledge, of these a........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2017
  • 11:38 AM
  • 91 views

Multilingualism and disorders

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Norms of conduct, including linguistic norms, are social constructs. They vary in space and time, and they can be of two types. Descriptive norms draw on observation and tell us what people do, for example that interrupting your conversation partners is common in parts of southern Europe (which can be a sign of polite engagement in the exchange), or that fermented herring is a delicacy in parts of northern Europe (which can be a sign of Nordic stoicism). Prescripti........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2017
  • 11:25 AM
  • 84 views

Textbook languages

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Wanting to learn a language doesn’t always result in learning the language that we want. This is so even when the language that we want to learn and the one that we end up learning go by the same name – let’s call it X. One reason for this is that most language teaching proceeds through what we’ve come to identify as the language’s holy writ, namely, the X textbook. A textbook is a book. Like all books, it uses printed modes of language, with two consequ........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2017
  • 11:14 AM
  • 70 views

Multilingual novelties

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Research on multilingualism has mushroomed over the past 50 years or so, which must be a good thing. Although some publications do take multilingual norms as multilingual norms, most research has proceeded through the bias of monolingual standards, which is not so good for the obvious reason that multilinguals aren’t monolinguals. Equally biased is the academic and media hype spawned by the flurry of interest in current multilingualism, which risks spawning, in t........ Read more »

Laes, C. (2013) Polyglots in Roman Antiquity. Writing Socio-Cultural History Based on Anecdotes. Literatura 55(3). info:/

Schendl, H. (2015) Code-switching in early English literature. Language and Literature, 24(3), 233-248. DOI: 10.1177/0963947015585245  

  • March 26, 2017
  • 08:27 AM
  • 233 views

Multilingual neuromyths

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Neuromyths are misconceptions about how the brain works. They are the topic of the Nature Neuroscience editorial The mythical brain, which highlights that they are as false as they are appealing, and that their appeal is what explains their resilience.Appealing seems to be the key word here, in its sense of ‘engaging’ with little or no rational engagement. Deena Skolnick Weisberg and colleagues showed this in The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations: w........ Read more »

Beck, D. (2010) The Appeal of the Brain in the Popular Press. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(6), 762-766. DOI: 10.1177/1745691610388779  

  • March 25, 2017
  • 01:14 PM
  • 163 views

The multilingual scapegoat

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Scapegoating has historically been instrumental in alleviating consciences. The fact that scapegoating, as historically, has had no effect whatsoever on what caused those consciences to become burdened in the first place doesn’t seem to deter its continued practice.Multilingualism has served as a handy goat candidate for a good while now. In typically recurrent scenarios, if a child presents with a (suspected) language-related disorder, and that child is multilin........ Read more »

  • March 25, 2017
  • 01:06 PM
  • 183 views

Native multilinguals

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Some of my language teaching students sometimes express out loud their heartfelt desire to become native speakers. I was quite baffled the first time I heard this: we’re all native speakers, surely, and we can’t become natives, if we take the word “native” to mean what I supposed it is meant to mean, ‘from birth’. But does it? It turned out that my students’ previous teacher training had included the mantra that “native” means ‘flawless’ in th........ Read more »

  • March 25, 2017
  • 12:40 PM
  • 191 views

Sign-speech multilinguals

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Opinions and decisions about multilingualism involving sign languages suffer from the same resilient fantasies which have plagued multilingualism in general over the past 100 years or so. With sign languages, however, there’s the aggravating factor that fantasies about them join the chorus. Only the other week, for example, I had a couple of (speech-speech) multilingual friends wonder why all the fuss about sign languages among linguists like me, since these lang........ Read more »

Alibali, M., Young, A., Crooks, N., Yeo, A., Wolfgram, M., Ledesma, I., Nathan, M., Breckinridge Church, R., & Knuth, E. (2013) Students learn more when their teacher has learned to gesture effectively. Gesture, 13(2), 210-233. DOI: 10.1075/gest.13.2.05ali  

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