Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Public symposium Twee Talen - één BeTalen

What are the advantages of speaking a second language? Why do some people find it easier to learn a second language than others? Does a dialect count as a first language? On 20 May, Leiden University is organising an English-speaking public symposium on bilingualism: Twee Talen - één BeTalen.

Brain and language

Every year, the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC) singles out a particular theme. This year, it is the relationship between our brain and language. This is the particular focus of a group of researchers, the Language and Cognition Group (LACG), consisting of social researchers and linguists. There are currently a number of projects related to multilingualism and the cross-linguistic aspects of language acquisition. There are also PhD projects being carried out in this research area; on 12 May, for instance, Rinus Verdonschot is defending his thesis on the acquisition of character languages such as Japanese and Chinese.

Multicultural society


Niels Schiller, Professor of Psycho- and neurolinguistics and co-organiser of the symposium, explains why ‘bilingualism’ was chosen as a theme: ‘Bilingualism is playing an increasingly important role in our society. Especially in a multicultural society such as Europe, parents are faced with the question of whether they can or should raise their children in more than one language.’

Clearing up the myths

An international selection of speakers has been invited to the symposium. The topics include for instance: why is learning a second language easier for some people than for others? What are the advantages of a second language, other than the ability to be understood by a larger segment of the population? Can a dialect be considered to be a first language? In addition, a number of myths regarding bilingualism will be cleared up. In the lunch break, a number of short presentations will be given.

New MRI scanner

At the end of the day, Henri Lenferink, leiden's Mayor, will ‘unveil’ the new 3 Tesla MRI scanner. This device allows researchers to see what happens in the brain, for instance in the process of learning a second language. Serge Rombouts, Professor of Methods of Cognitive Neuro-Imaging, will first explain the various possibilities offered by this new equipment.


Twee Talen - één BeTalen
20 May, 08.45–17.00 hrs
Lecture Hall, Gorlaeus Laboratory, Einsteinweg 55, Leiden
Free entry

Programme and registration


This website uses cookies.  More information.