Lab meeting 28 January Maria Luisa Canavesio

Maria Luisa Canavesio is a visiting PhD student from Trento University who is affiliated to our institute for the whole of January. Her research centers on bilingual primary education (Italian-English). A brief outline of what Luisa would like to discuss during the lab meeting is provided below. The room for this event is slightly different from what you’re used to: Drift 23: room 0.10:


The research aims at investigating in Italian Primary School children (8-10 years old) the presence of interference and LoLA (Language of Learning Arithmetic) effects in mental arithmetic when the language of acquisition is not the native tongue but a foreign language.
In fact, half of the classes of the sample are “bilingual classes”, in which children have been taught and trained in Mathematics with English as a medium of instruction since their first year of formal schooling.
Three experiments have been planned to investigate the activation of addition facts (results of addition with single-digit operands) using a number matching task. In experiment 1 the Arabic digit numbers are visually presented, in experiments 2 and 3 a novel manipulation has been set up, using a cross visual-auditory modality in English and Italian.
Preliminary results of two 4 grade classes will be presented, together with the results of an additional experiment run on the same classes using a cross visual-auditory modality with German spoken numbers.
The findings confirm the hypothesis that the arithmetic associations are still developing.
Regarding the LoLA effect, the use of a foreign language in teaching and learning arithmetic does not hamper or negatively affect the performance of the bilingual class in this task. The cross comparisons between the performance of each class in the three different languages do not lead to an evidence-based proof that there is a preferred language.

During the lab meeting I would like to discuss my data and the analysis that has been carried out so far. Any remarks and suggestions about the interpretation of the results and the spillovers of the adoption of the LeFevre’s paradigm would be particularly appreciated especially with a view to the experiments that will be set up in the next months.

From the beginning of December till the end of January I am a visiting PhD student at the Institute of Linguistics UiL OTS of Utrecht University under the supervision of Prof. De Graaff. Since my research encompasses also a quality assessment of a bilingual programme at Primary school level, I would take the opportunity to learn from the Dutch extensive expertise in research in school contexts and assessment in order to tune up the methodology and the tools for my small scale assessment project and for establishing an interesting network. Moreover, I would like to get insights also on the experimental side of my research.

Maria Luisa Canavesio is currently leading a PhD at the Department of Cognitive Sciences and Education, University of Trento under the supervision of Prof. Remo Job.
Her main research interests include L2 acquisition, numerical cognition and quality assessment of bilingual educational programs.
She received a Degree in Philosophy from the University of Torino in 1996 and a Master in Language and Culture in teaching Italian as a foreign language from “Ca’ Foscari”, Venezia in 2007.
Since 1995 she has worked as a Primary school teacher. From 2004 to 2009 she was teaching Italian to foreigners in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affair assignment).