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How children become bilingual Nayr Ibrahim "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse." (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor,

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Presentation on theme: "How children become bilingual Nayr Ibrahim "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse." (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor,"— Presentation transcript:

1 How children become bilingual Nayr Ibrahim "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse." (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, 16th century) Milan 22 March 2011

2 I speak French to my family and my friends. I speak Arabik wid my teacher. I speak English wid my nanny and in the British Council. I speak Chanese in skoûl. (BL7 with original spelling)

3 Children are linguistic geniuses. (Chukovsky, 1971 ) We need to work with their genius not against it. (Bloch, 2003)

4 Bilingualism is complex and multidimensional Linguistic Psycholinguistic Sociolinguistic EducationalIntercultural

5 I have no opinion of why I speak does (those) languages. Comes naturally. (BL10) I dont think speaking two languages is so extraordinary, but on the other hand, speaking only one language must be a bit odd, like only seeing with one eye: youd somehow lack the depth and perspective. (2003 Harding-Esch & Riley)

6 Becoming bilingual Home Individual Community Education NEED for Communication

7 Context-specific / Language contact situations Intermarriage : mum is French and dad is Italian OPOL (one person, one language approach) Mom, why are you speaking to me like that: with you its English Migration (professional, immigration, political) (minority language at home approach) Education: Bilingual education: community schools, private schools, international sections in France Bi- or multilingual communities, e.g. Switzerland, South Africa, India

8 (Cummins 1980)

9 Simultaneous bilingualism When two languages are learnt simultaneously from birth / very early in childhood I speak two different languages: French and English. I started to pronounce these two languages when I came out of my mums tummy. (BL11)

10 Stage 1: Child does not differentiate between languages pickle + cornichon = pinichon (Grosjean, 1982)

11 Stage 2: Increased differentiation between languages Mami vuole Stickzeug, vuole Arbeit si? (Mommy wants knitting, wants work, yes) (Grosjean, 1982)

12 Stage 3: Child can differentiate languages at lexical and grammatical level Dovè Kitty? (Italian friend) Wo ist Kitty? (German mum) (Grosjean, 1982)

13 Bilingual First Language Acquisition BFLA Development of two languages in young children who are in contact with these two languages from birth Bilingualism as a first language The general patterns of bilingual development for children regularly addressed in two languages from birth are identical to those for monolingual children (De Houwer, 2009)

14 Consecutive / sequential bilingualism When the second language is acquired at a later stage through street, nursery / school or the community (in a natural setting). I continue to learn Chinese because I begin to learn it when I was 5 years old. (BL9)

15 Code-switching /Language mixing Language mixing is a characteristic of bilinguals throughout their lives I also use some expressions (in English) when I am angry or when they fit in French discussion (BL11) It depends on whether they are in bilingual mode or monolingual mode Code switching isnt haphazard: it is always meaningful / a deliberate choice Marie Claude was ravished (ravie = pleased) It isnt a sign of confusion or incompetence, but rather an enhanced and sophisticated communicative competence I speak English at home to exercise or just to dialog. (BL11)

16 Bilingualism is not a 100-metre race.

17 It is like long-distance running.

18 real, rich, stimulating constant, long-term, positive interaction with people in structured contexts and environments Maintaining bilingualism

19 Bilingualism is a matter of degree (Harding-Esch & Riley, 2003) There are chunks of life that bilinguals have only experienced in one or other of their languages (Harding-Esch & Riley, 2003, p34) I talk to my mom in English about how to have a baby. I talk to my dad about if we will buy a baguette. (BL7) Im better in one language: French than English – I prefer French for all things (BL10)

20 Bilingualism is a ever-changing, shifting phenomenon Because when I was 2 I lived in London and I spoke very good English but when I came back to France I lost all my English words so I came here (British Council Bilingual Section) to speak like I spoke in the past (BL9) If we do not speak English daily in about 3 months I will lose my English (BL11)

21 La = French Lb = English François Grosjean: bilingual linguist

22 François Grosjeans life-long language plotting

23 Becoming bilingual must be a pleasurable experience that allows for positive attitudes One of the advantages of a bilingual child and adult is having two or more worlds of experience. (Baker, 1996 p.4) It is interesting because you learn the same world differently. (BL11) When I grow older and I want to find a job, being bilingual is a quality which is very researched. (BL12) I like being bilingual because I have a priviledge. (BL10)


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