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Bilingual babies?

Discussion in 'Family, Home & Health' started by Lanie, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. rosetta
    Ideal_Rock

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    by rosetta » Jan 21, 2011
    Yssie

    I speak English and Bengali fluently.

    I understand Hindi very well, and Urdu and Gujarati less well, but still well enough to follow everyday conversations.

    I picked up a few Tamil words here and there, but can't pretend I know it to any useful level!
     
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  2. diva rose
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    by diva rose » Jan 21, 2011
    Anchor - what you're already doing is great! Singing and reading are good methods to help with learning. It also keeps the children interested. Repeating sentences should be fine, especially since you've broken it up with his name. It's when you say something like - "Jacob, viens here" - if that makes sense. :)

    Thanks Cupcake. I will check out Rosetta.

    Do you speak Taiwanese? My DH and his family speak Taiwanese and Mandarin. I would like to learn both if I can however can't seem to find any resources that teach 'Taiwanese'.
     
  3. mayerling
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    by mayerling » Jan 24, 2011
    I'm a language specialist, so I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents here. To the OP, when you said you wish to speak to your child in Spanish you didn't mention whether you are a native speaker of Spanish (or if you did I missed it and I'm sorry). If not, I would advise you not to. If you're not native you're likely to make mistakes when speaking it (no matter how fluent you might be) which means the child is not getting the same experience being raised in Spanish by you as he/she would if raised in a native environment.

    Also, literacy is not a prerequisite for learning two languages natively, though it does help when learning languages using foreign language instruction.

    It has also been shown that, despite the delay that bilingual children experience, they do eventually catch on and are much better at learning foreign languages than monolingual babies.

    Regarding the issue of children "forgetting" their native language (or one of them) when they enter school, leave the house, etc., that is true to a certain extent with respect to vocabulary (they might forget the word for kitchen for example) but it's not really the case for the grammar of the language, i.e. if they remember the word for kitchen, they'll also know how to pluralise it and say 'kitchens'. I should mention that in language research grammar takes precedence over vocabulary.

    One final point I can think of right now is that if the child is raised in a language or two languages at home that differ from the language of the community (or the accent of the community for that matter), when they do learn the language of the community (e.g. through school), that language tends to take over and be the dominant language.
     
  4. Lanie
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    by Lanie » Jan 24, 2011
    I have to politely disagree. I don't think you need to be a native speaker to pass along the language. I learned it before puberty so i barely have an accent (I have fooled many people), I lived in Mexico for 3 years, and I have a bachelor's degree and a master's degree both in Spanish. So while I'm not a native speaker, I'm as close as you get. I think any language input is great regardless of the source. There are daycare and elementary teachers all over the country who are teaching second languages to their students, but aren't native speakers. And I think it would be a disservice to continue something like that. I'm a high school and middle school teacher of Spanish and many of my colleagues along the way haven't been native speakers. Ironically some of the best FL teachers have been the ones like me, that learned it in school. But that's a different scenario I realize. I could see you discouraging someone from teaching their child a language they are not comfortable with, but I don't think it should be contingent on native proficiency.
     
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  5. diva rose
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    by diva rose » Jan 25, 2011
    I have to politely disagree also. You don't need to be a native speaker to teach your child the second language.
    There are parents from culturally and lingustically diverse (CALD) backgrounds where english is not their first language. However they teach english to their children. The children then get lessons to perfect their english at school or classes. Many people learn second languages from non native speakers and are still proficient.

    Where you referring to parents expecting their child to be fluent in their second language? In that case, yes parents need to have realistic expectations.

    Literacy is one of the foundations for learning languages for children. It helps them develop speech sounds.
    Children and adults learn language differently. For an adult they may not require development of literacy - however for a child it helps their learning when they can identify a sound to a symbol.
     
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  6. mayerling
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    by mayerling » Jan 25, 2011
    Sorry to keep going on about this.

    One point I feel I need to stress is that literacy is not a prerequisite for learning a foreign language (just like it's definitely NOT a prerequisite for learning a first language, and there are illiterate people in the world who do speak various languages).

    Also, no matter how proficient somebody is in a foreign language, they (almost) never have native-speaker ability. You mention learning Spanish in puberty and then going on to get degrees in it and being a teacher in it. Similarly, I started learning English during childhood, went on to get degrees in it, live in a country where it is my primary means of communication, people cannot tell that I am not a native-speaker, BUT I cannot claim to have native-speaker proficiency. Native-speaker proficiency is not as simple as not having an accent, or using the correct tense. It's much more than that. It's being able to judge when a grammatical construction you have NEVER encountered before is acceptable in your language, etc.

    However, I realise that I can't convince you if you're starting off from the standpoint of 'if I'm proficient I can certainly teach my child the foreign language' so I'll back off.
     
  7. diva rose
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    by diva rose » Jan 25, 2011
    Mayerling - you don't need to apologize at all. I think this is an interesting topic. We can probably discuss it endlessly however others may find it boring. :)

    I think I understand what you are referring to. Perhaps proficiency and ability are not the most suitable words to describe differences between native and non-native speakers. I believe the terms native and non-native varies. For example, most people don't consider English speaking Singaporeans to be native speakers of English. Which is a bit silly considering English is their first language and is the main language used in Singapore.

    English is my third language after Korean and Mandarin. I started learning English when I was 7 years old. I 'think' in english - if that makes sense. In fact, my mandarin is non-existent and my Korean is terrible. My mother is ashamed of me - lol. I came in the top 10% of my state in Australia in English, where the majority of the population are native speakers. I also specialise in speech and language pathology which is based on English. In addition, my sister who is a psychologist also came in the top percent of the state. We are both able to make judgement whether a grammatical construction is acceptable or not in English. Heck, I'm the first to notice my own errors when I write and speak - which I do often due to rushing etc. I am sure there are non-native speakers out there who are proficient in their second or third language. I do strongly believe education, exposure and practice are key factors in one's ability to be proficient in a language.

    Yes literacy is not a prerequisite for learning a language however evidence support learning literacy does help children with development of language skills.
     
  8. mayerling
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    by mayerling » Jan 25, 2011
    I think it depends on what we mean by 'development of language skills'. If we're talking about children learning lots of nice new words and learning how to write in an essay in a fluent manner using language that flows nicely from paragraph to paragraph, then I agree that literacy does help. But I'm afraid that I don't agree if what we're referring to is learning the grammar of a language; that is, I don't agree that literacy is what helps a child learn the plural suffix (by the way, I'm referring to native-speaker ability here since we're talking about bilingual babies), or how to form the past tense of verbs. Children learn these constructions long before they are literate, and illiterate people know how to speak their language perfectly as well.

    However, I realise now that I might be off-topic since the term 'bilingualism' is used differently by people who do research in linguistics (sometimes it's used quite confusingly there as well) and people who don't. In linguistics, 'bilingual' people are those who have native-language proficiency in two language, whereas the term can be used in other contexts for people who just know and might be fluent in two languages. If we're referring to the latter, then, yes, literacy definitely helps and it is not necessary for a child to be exposed to the language by native speakers.
     
  9. mayerling
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    by mayerling » Jan 25, 2011
    Diva rose, please don't think that I'm targeting you here, but there's something else I feel I should stress here as well.

    Doing well in state exams in English (among native speakers), or Spanish if you're in a Spanish-speaking country, etc., is not really related to native-speaker proficiency. When somebody's 18 and taking an exam in English, what they're generally examined on is their ability to use the language to talk about something non-grammar-related. So if you have an exam in English where you have to discuss the use of imagery in one of Shakespeare's sonnets, or despair in one of William Faulkner's novels, what you're examined on is your ability to do an analysis of those concepts using fluent English, not your ability to speak grammatically in English.
     
  10. diva rose
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    by diva rose » Jan 25, 2011
    You are right, linguists view the term bilingual differently. I believe we are referring to the latter - fluency.
     
    


    


  11. diva rose
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    by diva rose » Jan 25, 2011
    I don't feel targeted at all - don't worry. :)

    You have a good point but the it depends on the exams. Our assessments are written and oral. With written - we are expected to write essays usually around 4 pages in length per essay. They analyse your grammar, sentence structure etc. I am assuming you are a linguist? If so, you would also know as a speech and language pathologist - we study grammar, phonetics and linguistics etc. If I did not have skills like a native speaker - there is no way I can be a speech and language pathologist.

    In regards to speaking grammatically - there are many native English speakers who have terrible grammar and no understanding of the english language. So are we to say a non-native speaker is still not proficient compared to someone like that? Again - I really do feel it's exposure and education of the language. I do know that linguists do firmly believe there are certain levels of a language a non-native speaker cannot accomplish/master compared to a native speaker. However do I agree with it? No I don't. However this issue is an on-going debate which still continues to this day in the world of language/linguistics. :)
     
  12. mayerling
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    by mayerling » Jan 25, 2011
    Oh, good. Then we have no argument. Sorry for being off-topic.
     
  13. mayerling
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    by mayerling » Jan 25, 2011
    Oh no, of course I agree that you have the necessary native-speaker proficiency to do well in these exams. It's just that, presumably, most, if not all, kids taking the exam have a similar level of proficiency as they are all native speakers. However, you have additional language skills than they do, in terms of being able to argue your point/discuss complex concepts/etc., that place you in the top percentile in state exams.
     
  14. diva rose
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    by diva rose » Jan 25, 2011
    That is very true. Actually come to think of it though - I was raised in an environment where my father is a native English speaker.
    I am not sure if that contributes?
     
  15. mayerling
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    by mayerling » Jan 25, 2011
    I wouldn't say that contributes to your scores in the state exams. That's a skill that you have that's independent of native-speaker influence as most of the kids taking the exams were also probably raised by native speakers.

    I should also mention that even if your father were not a native speaker, you'd still be considered a native speaker by linguists because you were raised in an environment where English is the primary means of communication from age 7. And, as I've probably mentioned in a previous post, the language of the community tends to be the child's dominant language.
     
    


    


  16. Lanie
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    by Lanie » Jan 25, 2011
    Well this thread came to a screeching halt! :rodent: Just kidding...

    You ladies are very well versed in linguistics. That was what my masters was in as well, so I don't feel the need to comment further. I think the bottom line we can all come away with is that any language input is good for their little brains. If you aren't a native/near native speaker, you won't/shouldn't expect your child to be one either from your lessons alone. And keep an open mind that your child might reject your language for the language of the community, no matter how much you stuff it down their throats.

    I still love the ideas of input input input with music, videos, games, minority language with everyday activities (changing diapers, eating, cleaning up), books, and playgroups. We need to maximize the sponginess while we can!!!
     
  17. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Aug 30, 2018
    I just reread Lanie's last posting above, made over seven years ago, because I brought up this thread to link with another one I started today on new research on how language starts in the womb.

    I have to say that I think she hit the nail on the head with what she wrote and it is too bad this thread did not continue.

    Whether a parent has the ability to raise a truly bilingual child with his innate language abilities or "only" one familiar with other languages, surely it is better to bring up a child familiar with foreign languages!

    Link to new thread I started today...https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/how-children-learn-language-revisited.243254/

    AGBF
     

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