We’re Carine, Brittany and Eva-Maria!
We’re PhD students at the University of Edinburgh and volunteers at Bilingualism Matters, an international information and research centre that promotes bi/multilingualism. Language learning and bi/multilingualism are really important to each of us, as together we speak 10 languages (!) and all of our PhD research centers around how being bi/multilingual affects everyone.
Brittany Blankinship is a PhD student in Psychology studying Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. Her is PhD entitled, “Multilingualism in Later Life: Natural History and Effects of Language Learning”. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining neuroscience with linguistics and quantitative with qualitative methods. Her research focuses on the effects of language learning in later life and the way in which languages change in bi/multilingual people across the lifespan. She is interested in particular in language learning in older adults and those living with dementia, working closely with wonderful organisations like Lingo Flamingo.
In addition to her PhD work, Brittany also passionate about public engagement, data visualization, tackling the stigma around learning/teaching statistics (it can be fun!), coding, and student representation. She joined Bilingualism Matters as a volunteer in 2018 and has been active in the organization ever since.
Outside of her PhD, Brittany is a coffee and book lover and enjoys the occasional (or frequent) video call home to see her dogs.
Carine Abraham is a PhD Student in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on second language ambiguity in reading and writing, specifically how people understand ambiguous pronouns when the people mentioned all have the same gender. Carine is also interested in how language acquisition differs between siblings and in signed languages.
Previously, Carine has worked as an English Teacher in Japan and Scotland, with primary and secondary school students, where she developed a love of working with language learners and the general public. With this new found love, Carine joined Bilingualism Matters in 2017 and has developed several interactive games/challenges for children and adults, and has created and run short courses on public engagement for the organisation’s volunteers.
Outside of her studies, Carine loves to hike, knit, and eat delicious food with friends.
Eva-Maria Schnelten is a PhD student in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on multilingual language dominance in adults and cross-linguistic interference, exploring individual differences such as aptitude and attitudes. As a former language teacher and with experience in language therapy, she is also interested in (foreign) language acquisition and language change, language across the lifespan, minority languages and language policies.
In addition to her academic work, she’s been a volunteer at Bilingualism Matters since 2016, where she is the content developer for social media and member of several volunteer groups. She has co- organized events and delivered talks and workshops to bridge the gap between research and the public.
In her personal life she is a food, plant and animal enthusiast that loves to socialize and travel.
Mariel Deluna is a PhD student in Education at the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House. Her current research focuses on the construction of identity in teachers who are native speakers of English and how that intersects with linguistic racism. More broadly, she is also interested in reading things that have to do with language identity, critical pedagogy, decolonization, and English language imperialism.
Prior to moving to Scotland, she spent four years living in Japan. (Fun fact: That’s where she met Carine!) She worked for two years as an English teacher in the countryside before moving to Tokyo for her master’s degree, in which she examined the relationship between translanguaging, native speakerism, and constructed teacher-identity in Japanese EFL classrooms.
When she isn’t crying over audio editing, she enjoys staring into the void of the Internet, pretending she’s taller than 151 cm, and learning how to cook new things. You can also catch her in her child-sized shoes walking around Edinburgh and trying to explore as much as local protection levels will allow.
Bérengère Digard has just finished her PhD in Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focused on how being bilingual shapes the way autistic and non-autistic adults understand social information and relate to other people, in terms of lived experiences, mental skills, and brain networks. During her PhD she wrote the PhD blog PhD & Stuff, and she should really think about stopping it because she is not a PhD student anymore. She also tutored at the University, mostly in fields she doesn’t know much about, like Psychology, Linguistics and Education, but she enjoyed it as it was a great opportunity to learn new things. Right now she is looking for a job, which is unfortunate because a pandemic is not the best time to do that.
She is slowly getting used to having a life outside of the PhD again, but considering the current pandemic situation her interests are mostly plant-, book- and food-based.
María García Basanta is a part-time MSc Developmental Linguistics student at the University of Edinburgh. Her studies focus on first and second language acquisition, bilingualism over the lifespan and other related aspects such as language disorders or psychology of language learning.
She joined Bilingualism Matters to be part of a centre that collaborates with its community providing information about the benefits of bi/multilingualism and language learning.
Outside her studies and Bilingualism Matters, María plays Touch Rugby and loves running, cycling, hiking or any sport that involves spending time outdoors.
Zoé Titheridge is in her final year of her undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. If Zoé had to pick, she would say that her interests mainly lie in the field of sociolinguistics. In particular, Zoé is interested in topics relating to bilingual interaction, linguistic prejudice, and bilinguals’ language choices and language use as identity markers.
Zoé joined Bilingualism Matters in early 2020, before the world knew anything about lockdowns, to find out about the ways in which language research can make a positive and tangible difference.
When Zoé is not sitting at a 90 degree angle in front of her computer, she enjoys bouldering and convincing herself to make the most of the few hours of daylight Edinburgh in winter can offer. She is also an avid quiche maker, part-time plant and cat mum, and beginner seamstress.
Maria Dokovova is a second year MSc student in Speech and Language Therapy at Queen Margaret University, where she previously did her PhD in Phonetics. Her research focuses on fine phonetic characteristics of the speech of Bulgarian-English bilinguals and their processing of Bulgarian-accented English. Lately, her interests are quickly expanding to the connections between accents and identity, the effect of attention on the ability to understand different types of speech and stammering in bilingual peopl
She joined Bilingualism Matters in November 2019 and has since been mostly involved with the group that organises the Refugee Festival in June.
Maria used to go out dancing, and get together with friends to paint and drink caffeinated beverages. Under lockdown, this was replaced by knitting and crochet, long socially-distanced walks on the beach, and zoom parties.
Mattia Zingaretti is a PhD researcher in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. His doctoral project explores foreign language learning and changes in the native language of British expats in Italy, and learners of Italian in the UK. His research interests include first and second language acquisition, first language change, and he is also more broadly interested in teaching and learning practice in Higher Education.
Mattia joined Bilingualism Matters during his MSc studies in 2016, and has since been involved in the delivery of talks and outreach activities on bilingualism in schools and public events, such as the 2018 Edinburgh Explorathon, the 2018 Edinburgh Multilingual Festival, and the 2019 London Language Show.
In a pre-pandemic world, Mattia loved travelling – now, he spends most of his free time going for a walk (or, Scottish weather permitting, for a run) until the time comes for his next Zoom meeting… in the hope that the pandemic will end soon!
Jessica Schulz is a second year PhD student in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the Maltese-English bilingual experience in Malta and cognitive functioning.
She joined Bilingualism Matters because she would like to strengthen the communicative bond between researchers and the wider community. Jessica is also very passionate about languages and multilingualism in general and is excited to be part of a team of people who are equally enthusiastic about these things!