The 2021-2022 Krost Symposium theme of Multilingualism Matters focuses on topics (matters) in multilingualism and why they matter (are important). In today’s global society, it is becoming increasingly common for people to use more than one language – a trend that is especially evident in Texas and our local community. This movement has raised many complex questions regarding the social and cognitive benefits of multilingualism, how language is organized in the brain, and the best way to teach or learn multiple languages. It has also resulted in an increasing demand for multilingual service-providers, and highlighted the important skill of being able to understand and connect with others in a diverse society. These and other relevant multilingualism matters will be explored through a series of speakers, discussions, and workshops.
Foreign Language Film Night
February 9 from 7-9:30 p.m. in Wupperman Theatre, Schuech Fine Arts Building
Join us for a screening and discussion of the German film Balloon (2018), set in 1979 East Germany and based on true events. This historical thriller tracks the daring escape attempts of two families struggling to flee from East to West Germany in a self-built hot-air balloon while being chased by the East German State Police.
Giesber Keynote Speaker: Tim Doner, the world's youngest hyperpolyglot
February 16 at 7 p.m. in Jackson Auditorium
Timothy Doner is a Middle East analyst with a primary focus on the political economy and foreign policy of Iran. He currently works at the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), where he specializes in the use of open source data to track money laundering, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
He received his bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern Studies from Harvard University and his M.Phil. in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. Doner has been featured in media outlets like The New York Times, BBC and The Economist as “the world’s youngest hyperpolyglot" someone who speaks or studies dozens of languages. He previously served as Vice President of Business Development at FluentWorlds, a virtual reality language learning app with over 1 million users.
Naja Ferjan Ramírez
Two Languages, One Developing Brain: Bilingual Language Learning in Infancy
February 17 at 9:30 a.m. in Jackson Auditorium
Naja (pronounced Naya) Ferjan Ramírez is an assistant professor in Linguistics at the University of Washington and holds the Distinguished Professorship in Language Acquisition and Multilingualism Endowment. She earned her bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from Brown University and her Ph.D. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington. Naja's research focuses on understanding the extent and origins of variability in brain growth and linguistic development among young children of diverse backgrounds. She uses multiple methodologies, including naturalistic recordings in children's homes and early education centers, magnetoencephalography (MEG), and behavioral language measures in the laboratory. Naja is a proud mother of three young children who listen to and speak three languages at home: Slovene, Spanish, and English.
Kim Potowski, Spanish Professor and Author
February 17 at 10:30 a.m. in Jackson Auditorium
Kim Potowski is a Professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a passionate supporter of multilingualism and minority languages, particularly in elementary schooling. Her research focuses on Spanish in the United States: who uses it, with whom, and for what purposes, as well as what changes it is undergoing, and how language connects to identity and social justice. She is also interested in heritage language education and has experience providing professional development for teachers. She began directing her campus’ Spanish Heritage Language Program in 2002 and is the founding director of its summer study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico, where she spent a year as a Fulbright scholar. Her advocacy for the value of education in two languages for all U.S. children was the focus of her 2013 TEDx talk “No child left monolingual.” She has authored and edited over 12 books including:
El español de los Estados Unidos
Heritage language teaching: Research and practice
and Language and identity in a dual immersion school
The Krost Symposium is the university's premier academic event and is free and open to the public. The Multilingualism Matters Krost Symposium Planning Committee includes chair Dr. Elizabeth Woods (Psychology), Dr. Reza Abbasian (Math & Computer Science), Dr. Ariadne de Villa (World Languages), Dr. Danielle Grove (Biology), Professor Donna Kubena (Education), Jonathan Zitelman (ex-officio University Events), and Ashlie Ford (ex-officio Marketing & Communications).
For more information on this year's event, please email Dr. Elizabeth Woods.