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How children become bilingual Nayr Ibrahim

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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 How children become bilingual: explain your context via the image on the first slide. This is the view from my office window – very nice! But it is also the only BC office in Europe to have a thriving Bilingual Section which the two flags in the photo symbolize: Union Jack and Tricolor: all children have bilingual French / English profile, living in France, so the dominant language is very often French (point to Eiffel Towever) but the majority are actually multilingual: they use their languages for different functions in different contexts with different people in their lives (this is illustrated by the quote). I will refer to comments by our students in various surveys and projects on multilingualism.

2 “I speak French to my family and my friends
“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) And this is how a 7 year old in the Bilingual Section puts it... (I’ve kept the original spelling because it reflects the profile of the students in our Bilingual Section.

3 Children are “linguistic geniuses.” (Chukovsky, 1971 )
“We need to work with their genius not against it.” (Bloch, 2003) Fundamentally, all children can become bilingual because “... they are linguistic geniuses. Children are capable, not only of imitation, hypothesizing about language, making informed decisions about how language works, using metalanguage, and making jokes about language. These linguistic geniuses are quite capable of learning more than one language, of differentiating between languages, of switching languages to cater for interlocutor, context, function. “We need to work with their genius not against it.” Let’s tap into this resource, human capability.

4 Bilingualism is complex and multidimensional
Linguistic Psycholinguistic Sociolinguistic Educational Intercultural However, bilingualism doesn’t happen, it is a complex, multidimensional phenomenon: Besides the obvious linguistic element, it is also a social, psychological, intercultural, educational phenomenon: Bilingualism as many facets: linguistic, sociological, intercultural, identity, political, cognitive, conceptual, affective, multimodal This combination allows children to develop both their basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and their cognitive/academic language proficiency (CALP), which is much more demanding – communication and learning is not embedded – not contextualized.

5 “I have no opinion of why I speak does (those) languages
“I have no opinion of why I speak does (those) languages. Comes naturally.” (BL10) “I don’t 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: you’d somehow lack the depth and perspective.” (2003 Harding-Esch & Riley) ...a phenomenon that bilinguals consider quite normal.

6 NEED for Communication
Becoming bilingual Home Individual NEED for Communication Community Education Bilingualism is about language and therefore fundamentally about communication and interaction. Children learn to speak because they need to interact and communicate with the adults in their lives on a daily basis. Children acquire their languages in a natural way – they learn a language because they have to communicate with the people around them: English dad, Italian mum, Turkish grandparents Connection between the individual, education, the home and the community in the life of a bilingual. The four are interlinked and develop as a result of the support of the other. Individual can be bilingual in a monolingual culture. Social context: children are born in Italy into an English-speaking family; born in an English-speaking country but have Italian parents, who have decided to speak Italian at home in order to maintain the language (parental involvement in language choice and parents speak different languages (OPOL); children are born in a bilingual country – Switzerland or Africa. Bilingualism education develops biliteracy, and through the written word/literacy, a second language allows access to another way of thinking, of conceiving the world, allows access to the ‘literature’ of this culture, ideas and ideologies that have contracted this culture. All the experts on bilingualism agree that “it is unrealistic to treat the school as the main agent of language reproduction; the family and the wider community must also take responsibility. However, “education clearly has a role to play” (Fishman in Edwards 2004, p133) – success is measured by how closely the two work together, how many bridges are built between the school, the family and the community.

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 it’s 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 Need for communication goes hand in hand with the contextual factors that will contribute to development of children’s bilingualism. Bilingualism develops from and exists in language contact situations: Intermarriage: mum and dad speak their own language to the children and develop a linguistic relationship in this language with the children. Give Karim’s example. Migration: dad’s company sends dad to another country and the children are exposed to a third language – beginning of trilingualism (mobile family); family may decide to immigrate to another country; political or in search of a better life. In all these situations education plays an important role: and English at school and community; Bilingual school: private, community schools or bilingual projects such as the BC Bilingual communities Children born into these sociolinguistic situations have the potential of becoming bi-/multilingual.

8 Let’ look at a child who grows up in these language contact situations
Let’ look at a child who grows up in these language contact situations. Does he/she become tow monolinguals on one body? That is not what research has demonstrated: Bilinguals are not two monolinguals in one person, the language and language functions are not completely separate. The iceberg analogy (Cummins): irrespective of the language the one speaks there is a common operating system (the skills - speaking, reading, writing; the metalinguistic knowledge; our thoughts, concepts - non-language dependent and are transferable across languages) that the child draws on to communicate. CUP provides the base for the development of a child’s languages: getting what they want, asking for something, showing how they feel... At a surface level each language has codified these concepts in different ways into different structures e.g., asking questions English and French. Children learn that point and crying isn’t always the best way to get what they what – they learn that their is a particular way of placing words in order and intonation. They are also socialised into asking questions politely (Please / S’il te plait and Thank you / Grazie mille) (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 mum’s tummy. (BL11) When two languages are learnt simultaneously from birth / very early in childhood (up to around age three)

10 Stages of simultaneous bilingualism
Child does not differentiate between languages “pickle + cornichon = pinichon” (Grosjean, 1982) Stage 1: Child does not differentiate between languages; child seems has one lexical system made up of words from both languages, sometimes creates blinds e.g., pickle + cornichon = pinichon; one unified phonetic system made up of sounds from both languages. One-word-for-one-concept principle .

11 Stages of simultaneous bilingualism
Increased differentiation between languages Mami vuole Stickzeug, vuole Arbeit si? (Mommy wants knitting, wants work, yes) (Grosjean, 1982) Stage 2: Increased differentiation between languages, esp. at a lexical level i.e. two separate vocabularies but one grammatical system e.g. child will insert words from the other language in a sentence composed of the first language; child can translate and can associate languages with different interlocutors. It is at this stage that you can ask a child ‘How do you say that in English?’

12 Stages of simultaneous bilingualism
Child can differentiate languages at lexical and grammatical level Dov’è Kitty? (Italian friend) Wo ist Kitty? (German mum) (Grosjean, 1982) Stage 3: Child can differentiate languages at lexical and grammatical level. Person-language link becomes very rigid as it makes the choice of words and rules an automatic process. Child relies heavily on context to help decide which language to use Research has shown that children learning languages from birth go through the same processes as monolinguals and at about the same way. The difference is that bilingual children are dealing with two words for one concept

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) In the last decade we have come across the concept of Bilingual first Language Acquisition . Both monolingual and bilingual children go through the same process of development when learning to speak irrespective of whether they are using one or two languages.

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) When the second language is acquired at a later stage through street, nursery / school or the community. (after age three) The age of three has been suggested as an arbitrary demarcation line between simultaneous and sequential bilingualism These children are not less bilingual than the simultaneous bilinguals. Children use their knowledge of the first language to acquire their second language. Age, but most importantly, motivation and attitude, need, will aid the language learning process. The skills they have acquired in their first language are transferred to acquiring the 2nd language. Transfer and strategies (listening, looking for similarities and differences.

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 isn’t haphazard: it is always meaningful / a deliberate choice “Marie Claude was ravished” (‘ravie’ = pleased) It isn’t 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) Language transfer: effect of one language, at structural, lexical and syntactical level, phonological level on another. Common phenomenon among bilinguals – gives the bilingual greater communicative expressiveness. Bilingual mode: It is limited to bilingual situations, when bilinguals speak to other bilinguals. Code switching isn’t haphazard it is always meaningful / deliberate choice Reasons for code-switching: to emphasize or reinforce, to acknowledge different interlocutors or different context, to include or exclude someone, to indicate a change of attitude, to introduce humour into the conversation, to play with language, to express feelings

16 Bilingualism is not a 100-metre race.
Bilingualism is a life-long and whole-life adventure. It takes a child 2/3 years to gain communicative competence in two language but 5-7 years to gain academic competence in two languages. It’s a process that develops over time and must be nurtured.

17 It is like long-distance running.

18 Maintaining bilingualism
real, rich, stimulating constant, long-term, positive interaction with people in structured contexts and environments Bilingualism doesn’t just happen, and it will not happen because you sit the child in front of Cartoon Network all day, everyday: look, listen and learn. Bilingualism needs interaction with people: Children / parents have a real need to use the language, e.g. they need to communicate with grandparents and relatives in the home country. The best way for a bilingual to improve proficiency in one of his languages is to be in a monolingual situation. Linguistic interaction must be varied and rich (has plenty of grammatical input / vocabulary from different contexts. Vocabulary is a bilinguals’ weak point: if they lean Mathis in French, and have never come across mathematical terms in English, they will struggle when communicating in English about Maths, but this is temporary as they have other linguistic tricks up their sleeves: they are very good at transferring skills and associating ideas and concepts, making links and connections. Stimulating – it should take children further in their language learning, making comparisons, be interesting, make them want to learn more – not like foreign language learning at school, which is just another subject.

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) “I’m better in one language: French than English – I prefer French for all things” (BL10) Interaction must be regular, daily, constant: The astonishing facility with which young children learn a second language is only paralleled by the speed at which they can forget one” (Harding-Esch & Reilly, p.44). Language dominance is inevitable but it can change in our life-time. The expression ‘perfectly bilingual ‘is a fallacy. It is impossible to be perfectly monolingual, why do we expect so much from bilinguals. We expect bilinguals to act like two monolinguals Perhaps a better term is ‘balanced bilingual’. Level of bilingualism will “depend on quantity and quality of language interaction with parents and other people, context, environments and atmosphere in which language flourishes, and the pressures on and motivation of a child. Perfect bilinguals do not exist because bilinguals do not have the same level of fluency in all domains in both languages. We expect bilinguals to act like two monolinguals but bilingual experience different aspects or parts of life in different languages. Perhaps a better term is ‘balanced bilingual’. Level of bilingualism will “depend on quantity and quality of language interaction with parents and other people, context, environments and atmosphere in which language flourishes, and the pressures on and motivation of a child.

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 François Grosjean: bilingual linguist
La = French Lb = English Explain who François Grosjean is. Point to La and Lb

22 François Grosjean’s life-long language plotting
Explain who François Grosjean is. Point to La and Lb Retell FG’s story.

23 “I like being bilingual because I have a priviledge.” (BL10)
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) For children to become healthy bilinguals, the context in which they picked up these two language must be positive; the languages must simply be part of them, they must give a positive image of themselves as bilinguals, therefore the people around them must value both their languages – for a bilingual speaking two languages is normal – let’s keep it that way. Emphasis on one language, esp. in European context, In France you speak French, but that is a fallacy – you also speak, Breton, Corsican, Basque, Provencal, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, English, etc… Becoming bilingual must be a pleasurable experience, which builds positive attitudes towards both languages and cultures: Too much correction and too much emphasis on accuracy, make the child feel inadequate; too much emphasis on using one language only (stigmatizing or negating code-switching). Children should be encouraged to

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