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Abstract

Interest in the phenomena of bilingualism and second language learning among both researchers and policy-makers has continued to grow during the past five years. The continued salience of these phenomena is due in part to the rapid growth in cultural and linguistic diversity in industrialized societies brought about by increased immigration and refugee resettlement programs. Policy-makers are naturally concerned to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of programs that teach the dominant societal language(s) to both children and adults.
yldyodaya
J. Arts, Sci., Lett., Vol. 4 Nos. 1 & 2 pp 105—117, 1971
Bilingualism and Second Language Learning
by
S. H. J. SUGUNASIRI
Department of Education, Vidyodaya University of Ceylon.
Each language is unique and distinctive. But every language has the same
basic components, namely sound, meaning, structure and vocabulary ; thus
what one has to learn to attain inguistic mastery, whether in his mother
tongue or in a second language (S.L. hereafter) is the same. The difference
lies in the how of it, both in the acquiring and the functioning. It is how the
sound and structure have been used that makes one language different from
another. Thus, the factors at work in the monolingual situation are different
from those of the bilingual situation.
The present paper is an attempt to discuss the bilingual process (acquisition
and usage), some of the factors affecting this process, and finally, the implica-
tions for the teaching of English as a Second Language in Sri Lanka.
We shall begin by clarifying the concept of bilingualism. Bilingualism is
" having two symbols for the same referent." That
is,
the speaker has a concept
(= referent), but uses two different words (= symbols) to identify it. If he is
speaking English he uses the word <pencil>, and if he is speaking Sinhala,
the word <£3(.2S5ca(3>. But hejjis referring to, or speaking of, the very same
thing. Diagrammatically : pencil
Concept<
I. The March Toward Bilingualism
Lambert1 (p. 119) points out three levels of progressive achievement in
the acquisition of an S.L. The first level is a grasp of the phonological and
grammatical patterns of the target language (T.L.). But a mere understanding
and vocability (i.e., ability to produce sounds) of T.L. dees not necessarily mean
either an ability to respond automatically or to respond fast enough to be able
to carry on a smooth conversation. Speed of response is a commonly accepted
measure of habit strength, and this is what the S.L. learner has to achieve after
mastering the basic grammatical (and phonological) system. In other words,
not only should he know the T.L., but he should also make it a part of his
system. Thus, at the second level of S.L. learning, he should achieve automa-
ticity.
The third level is the toughest barrier. And this is to react culturally.
For example, the words <old man> mean ' a man who is old'. But in the
"Psychological Approaches to the Study of Language, Part II : on Second Language
Learning and Bilingualism", Lambert, W. E- The Modern
Language
Journal,
1963, 47,
(3),
pp.
114—121.
105
BIL1NGUAL1SM AND SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING
local English sub-culture, it has another meaning, namely ' father '. Now, to
qe able to communicate effectively, the learner of English has to learn to use the
particular words with this special meaning, too.
Once the bilingual achieves these three steps, he is close to the point of
being in a state of "anomie", i.e., a feeling of belonging neither to his own cul-
ture,
nor to the new culture ; (to the sub-culture of the English-speaking class,
in the case of Sri Lanka). Oddly enough, this is the " highest " state in bilin-
gualism.
Code Switching and Types of Bilingualism
Having seen the steps in achieving bilingualism, let us now see the func-
tioning of it.
Suppose that there are two people talking to each other. Both of them
know (i.e., understand
and speak)
two mutually common languages, say Sinhala
and English, and switchback and forth from one to the other, freely. What, in
essence, is happening ? They are
switching codes
and this they accomplish by
doing three things : they (1) select words from two different lexicons (== voca-
bularies)
;
(2) use different grammatical rules
;
and (3) use different distributions
and combinations of sounds.
The next question is " How did they do this ? " To answer this question,
we have to examine the different types of bilinguals. Linguists and psycholo-
gists have identified at least two broad types
compound
bilinguals and
coordinate
bilinguals. To understand these terms, let us look at the figure :
on page 107.
The manner in which compound and co-ordinate bilinguals store informa-
tion in their two (or more) languages is shown here by different arrangements
of linguistic " tanks ". According to the hypothesis, the compound bilingual
stores information centrally,
i.e.,
in one tank, and the co-ordinate type in sepa-
rate tanks.2
In this figure, the one on the left has only one tank and one tap, which
indicates that the compound bilingual is using a common linguistic pool for
speaking either language. Thus, if the meaning of a symbol (word, phrase,
sentence, etc.) in English, say, for example, ' democracy', is reduced through
overuse, the meaning of the Sinhala word,
too,
is
accordingly reduced. Further,
" compound bilinguals show a more general language deficit affecting their
two languages when they become aphasic".3 (p. 119).
The co-ordinate bilingual, on the other hand, (the two tank model on the
right) uses different taps to summon information. He switches a lever which
checks the outflow from one tap while allowing the information to come through
"Bilingualism and Information Processing", Kolers, P. A., Scientific
American,
March
1968,
pp. 78—87.
To be aphasic
is
to be in ".. that state in which one has difficulty in speech, comprehension
of speech, naming, reading, and writing..
It is associated with misuse and/or persevera-
tion of words, but is not due to disturbance in the mechanism of articulation.. not due to
general mental insufficiency." Speech and Brain Mechanism, Penfield W. & Roberts,
Lamar, Atheneum, NY 1966 (P & R), p. 92.
106107
S. H. J. SUGUNASIR1
the other. Since the two taps complement each other, that is, are independent
of each other, any overuse of a symbol in English would not affect the symbol
in Sinhala. Similarly, aphasia is likely to result in the loss of only one of the
two languages, rather than both, as would be in the case of a compound bilin-
gual.
These two types of bilingualism, of course, are not mutually exclusive.
Kolers (p. 79) found " that the actual situation of a bilingual person
combines parts of both hypotheses ". This should not be surprising since
both Kolers and Lambert have found that the learning context is significant in
determining the bilingual situation ; that is, the information is retrieved in the
language (more broadly, the context) in which it was encoded. For example,
if Geography were learned in Sinhala, and Philosophy in English, the bilingual
would automatically switch on the Sinhala tap when discussing Geography
and use English for Philosophy. Or again, if in a family of mixed marriage,
the mother spoke to the child in Sinhala, and the father in Tamil, the child
would use Sinhala with the mother and Tamil with the father, and use Sinhala
or Tamil, depending on which is more dominantly used in the home, when
talking to both parents together.
II.
Factors Affecting Second Language Learning
If that is the process and functioning in bilingualism, we now turn to some
of the factors that affect S.L. learning : age, intelligence, personality disposition
and environment.
Age
Let us see what effects age has on S.L. learning. Linguists, with good
support from psychologists, are agreed that a child is a linguistic adult in his
mother tongue around age four. What we mean by this, of course, is that such
a child can understand and produce the (meaningful) sound units of the language
and their rule-governed combinations, which is what language is. It is not
that his vocabulary is as extensive as that of an adult. Language is a complex
system of systems and not a mere stringing together of words. Which is why
we can speak of a " second stage of vacabulary expansion " (after four) in
language learning. Now if he were exposed to a second or several languages
before age four, he could master them easily, and just as easily keep each lan-
guage apart.
By age eight, the average child " begins to hold on to linguistic patterns,"
and at nine to " fix these patterns "4 Consider that these ages fall within
Piaget's "concrete operational" (third) stage of intellectual development.5
This means that a child under eight or nine can still master an S.L., with re-
lative ease, though not as easily as when he is under age four.
4.
P & R, p. 244.
5.
In Piaget's theory, there are four stages of intellectual development, namely (1) Sensori-
motor (ages 0-2) (2) pre-operational (2-6) (3) concrete operational (7-11) and (4) forma)
operational (12-15).
108
BILINGUALISM AND SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING
The reason is simply that the speech area in the brain (left hemisphere)
is being " committed." As a child reaches his eighth or ninth birthday, a good
proportion of his speech area has been taken up by the first language, so that
an S.L. has to vie for " space " in the speech area of the cortex. The more
fixed the linguistic patterns are in the cortex, the more difficult it is to dislodge
them. It is relevant here to note that it is the same speech area that a person
utilises to master any language; that is, as mother tongue or S.L. (p. 81)«.
There is some evidence to show that age nine (or twelve at a maximum) is
crucial in first language learning. Penfield (p. 78) found that children,
under the age ten or twelve, [who] lose their power of speech recover
after a year of dumbness and aphasia. In time they spoke as well as ever
they began all over again and established a speech center located on
the other side of the brain...... [but] when the major speech center is
severely injured in adult life, the adult cannot do what the child does. He
may improve, but he is using the remaining uninjured cortex on the side
of injury. He cannot establish a complete new center not because he
is senile, but because he has by that time taken over the initially uncom-
mitted convolutions of his brain for other uses.
The implications of this theory would have been clear if there were no other
factors to be taken into consideration in adult S.L. learning. We must bear
in mind that the two situations (child's first language learning and the adult's
S.L. learning) are hardly comparable.
Thus Ausubel7, Stern8 (p. 264), Saporta (V. pp 84-86) and others have
pointed out some advantages which adults possess over children. Ausubel
in arguing that " adults can acquire new languages more readily than
can children " (p. 420), (with the possible exception of pronunciation)
given
the
same conditions (i.e. same time, good material and good teachers, etc.),
goes on to point out two of these advantages :
First, they [adults] have a much larger vocabulary than children, particu-
larly with regard to abstract concepts. Hence in learning a foreign lan-
guage, unlike children they need not acquire thousands of new concepts9.
Second, in learning the structure of a new language they can make
deliberate use of grammatical generalizations and can explicitly apply
them to suitable exemplars, (ibid, p. 421).
This latter relates to the inductive learning process of
children
as opposed to the
deductive learning of adults.
6. "The Uncommitted Cortex : the child's changing brain", W. Penfield, Atlantic Monthly,
July 1964, 214 (1), pp. 77—81 (P).
7.
"Adults Vs. children in second language learning : Psychological considerations"'
Ausubel D. P.,
M.L.J.
Nov, 1964, 48 (7) pp. 420-4.
8. In Trends in Language Learning, Valdman, A-A. McGraw-Hill, NY, 1966 (V).
9. Note, incidentally, the parallel situation of a rural and urban Lankian learning English.
The urban child's task is, like that of the adult, only to attach new verabl symbols to
the concepts already acquired, having lived in a city. But the "rural" learner has a
prior task : to master the concepts before attaching symbols.
109
S. H. J. SUGUNAS1RI
Another advantage that adults or grown-up children have is their ability
to read and write. This means that they can use a bisensory media (hearing
and seeing) instead of the young child's unisensory (aural) input. Saporta
points out that writing sometimes gives more linguistic information than speech:
"for example, capitalization or the use and position of grammatical
markings like the apostrophe in boys, boy's, boys' ". (V., p. 85).
Thus there is evidence both for teaching an S.L. early and later in life ; we
can only conclude, with Stern (V., p. 265) that " the current claim that
the early years of schooling offer optimal conditions for language learning is
open to question ".
Intelligence
In a given culture, there are members whose measured I.Q. (assuming that
this is a reasonable, although never comprehensive, index of one's " intelli-
gence ") ranges from very low to very high. If asked to read, add or do any
other activity, the performance would very much depend, among other things,
on a person's general intelligence. But take language. Regardless of whether
a person can add 2 + 2 or read a simple paragraph and understand it (all of
which are essentially results of training), every one would speak his native
tongue quite fluently, i.e. without offending the members of his speech commu-
nity with regard to the linguistic paterns of the given language. This suggests
that intelligence is not a factor in first language learning.
Yet measurement specialists tell us that there is a high (positive) correla-
tion between intelligence and verbal learning. Really it is more appropriate
to say that most intelligence tests are verbal, i.e. " word-tests ".
How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction ? The clue lies in the
word " verbal." Earlier we referred to the " second stage of vocabulary ex-
pansion." This is the process that goes on until one's death, and since a child
is a linguistic adult by age four, any learning after that age must be an extension
of learning a language, and not learning the language
itself.
While one may speak his mother tongue fluently, regardless of his intelli-
gence, the richness of his discourse, i.e. choice of words, patterning of these
words, etc., depends on his vocabulary and mental set. The more " intelligent "
person is likely to have a larger stock of vocabulary items at his call than a
" less intelligent " one.
Now, in the case of an S.L. learner, depending on the age he is introduced
to the S.L., intelligence may play a part even in the "first stage learning"
(i.e.,
the phonology, structure, etc.), in addition to, of course, in vocabulary
learning. In his studies with English speaking Montreal students of French,
Lambert (p. 115) found that " aptitude and intelligence formed a factor
that was independent of
a
second, comprising indices of motivation." Gardner
(as cited in Lambert) found the same two independent factors at work.
This finding is not surprising, since the S.L. learner has to learn at least a
few hundred words to be able to use the target language. Language being a
coordinated system of (phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic)
systems, no one element can be learned to the exclusion of the others.
110
B1LINGUAL1SM AND SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING
Lambert's finding would equally apply to an S.L. learner above age six,
if we accept the premise that by that time a person is a linguistic adult, and is
beginning to fix patterns. Dislodging the linguistic patterns registered in the
speech cortex may be a function of intelligence, and the older the S.L. learner is,
the more it enters as a factor.
Bilingualism vs. Intelligence
A question that keeps coming up in the minds of parents, teachers and
others interested in children is whether learning a second (third or fourth)
language is harmful to the child ; whether it leads to loss of intelligence. Since
each utterance is associated with a conceptual counterpart, would not two diffe-
rent codes (languages) lead to confusion ?
Opinion is divided on this question, although there is more and more evi-
dence to show that learning more than one language does not hinder a person's
intellectual growth. On the contrary, this learning sharpens intelligence, if we
are to agree with Lambert.
our results clearly show that the bilingual students are far superior to
monolinguals on both verbal and non-verbal tests of intelligence
(L.p.
121)
Since this finding goes against findings of others, could it be that the different
results came from different populations ? Also, there are " good " bilinguals
and"bad" bilinguals, meaning those who have equal mastery in both languages
(i.e.
bilingual balance)10 and those whose mastery in one language is more than
in the other (i.e. linguistic dominance)10 respectively. These two variables
provide four possible permutations and a statement cannot be made without
first verifying whether or not Lambert's sample came from the same popula-
tion as the one from which other samples giving different results were drawn.
The evidence from neurophysiology, however, supports Lambert :
Does multilingualism decrease the eventual excellence of intellectual per-
formance in any one culture ? does a second language started too
soon confuse the child ? the answer based on observations and
psychological study, is no. Double learning may confuse the scientist
who seeks to discover how it is done, but not the child, (p., 80).
Aptitude and Personality Disposition
Within the same age and intelligence level, there may still be variation in
each, individual's aptitude to learn an SL. For example, some people have
particular difficulty in imitating strange (stretches of) sounds or foreign accents,
or in accurately doing so. The length of the " mimicry span " may, again, be
shorter in some than in others. Phonetic discrimination, that is, discriminating
between one sound and another, is yet another variable where individual diffe-
rences are seen. Finally, not all possess equal ability to develop meanings
inductively, and, neither are everyone flexible in adapting to a foreign language
10.
See page 8 for^a discussion of these concepts.
Ill
15—11886
S. H. J. SVGUNASIRI
orthography. The above observation of linguists (see John B. Carrol : The
study of
language,
Harvard University Press, 1959) tend to point to a factor in
SL learning which is independent of age and intelligence.
For the variable of personality disposition, one can best quote Lambert
(p.
115).
whereas aptitude and achievement were specially important for those
(language) skills stressed in school training, the acquisition of
skills,
whose development depends on the active use of the language in
communicational
settings,
was solely determined by measures of an integra-
tive motivation u this [integrative motive] was the converse of an,
authoritarian ideological syndrome, opening the possibility that basic
personality dispositions may be involved in language learning efficiency.
Motivation and Environment
Age,
intelligence, and personality are factors that relate specifically to the
individual.12 There are other factors affecting an S.L. learning situation which
relate more specifically to the environment. This includes motivation and the
home.
A person's interest in learning a new language can be determined by many
factors. But we can group all of them under two broad headings.
A student in the university may want to learn English to be able to read
books relating to his subject. Certain US universities require their M.A.
and Ph.D students to pass a reading (with comprehension) test in French or
German. A Tamil government servant might learn Sinhala to qualify for his
efficiency bar or in the hope of getting a promotion. Now, in all of the above
cases,
the learner is to use the second language as a means, a tool, an instrument.
Thus,
we say that such a motive as above is largely instrumental.
Now let's say that the person who is learning English to be able to read
books might also be quietly aspiring to eventually being a member of the local
English sub-culture. That is, not only would he be learning English, he would
change his peer group (i.e. heave his Sinhala or Tamil-speaking friends and
join a circle of English-speaking friends), too, and perhaps learn ballroom
dancing, buy the latest Western hits, etc. What he is trying to do is to inte-
grate into the local English sub-culture. Such a motivation we call
integrative.
Foreigners from all over the world come to Canada to settle down, and their
interest is to feel comfortable as soon as possible in their new home. Thus
they learn English (or French in French-speaking areas). Here, too, one finds
the integrative motive.
Thus,
we have two kinds of motivations : instrumental and integrative.
Associated with these factors is the additional consideration of whether a
bilingual is going to try to retain an equal control of the two languages (i.e.
11.
See p. Ill for a discussion of this concept.
12.
It is recognised that both intelligence and personality disposition are determined environ-
B1L1NGUALISM AND SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING
maintain "
bilingual balance
") or whether he is going to allow one language to
dominate over the other ("
linguistic dominance
").
If, for example, one feels
prouder to be a member of the English sub-culture, then he begins to use Eng-
lish wherever possible, and refuses to speak Sinhala/Tamil unless he has to ;
but if he is more tradition-rooted, then he may speak English but use his own
language wherever English is not demanded. Bilingual balance can be main-
tained only when the person is able to see the good as well as the bad aspects
of his own culture and of
the
sub-culture, and inculcate the best of both into his
thinking.
Environment
Environment relates to the family background as well as to the location of
residence, and also to the thinking in the country. In a family where either
or both parents speak a second language, chances are that the children would
be encouraged to speak the particular second language. They would at least
be speaking to the children in both languages, which would itself
be
setting the
grounds for SL learning. As anyone could observe, exposure to the language
in a natural
setting
is more than half the battle won, specially, of
course,
in the
case of children. But, on the other hand, a brother or sister earning a good
wage with only, say, Sinhala, may be a detrimental factor in a young sibling's
motivation to learn English.
Home location is another factor. If around him one hears only his native
tongue spoken, if his peer groups, too, are not conversant with any other lan-
guage, then he would hardly be motivated to learn an SL. Thus the preference
of parents (specially middle class English-speaking parents) to live in English-
speaking localities.
Finally, the societal climate. A governmental policy emphasising the
importance of a particular SL, say English, as is the case today in the country,
and an educational directive making the particular language compulsory in all
grades would certainly give a push to learning the particular language. If,
however, it is made compulsory at
higher
levels only, say at the University level,
or if it is merely " recommended that", then the impact it has on the public
would likely be much less. It is, of course, entirely possible that just the
reverse could occur ; that is, the more the government plays down the impor-
tance, or even merely ignores it, the more it may be that the influential public,
and thru' them (and their agents, the newspapers) the country at large, too,
might come to value the particular SL even more. Particularly if the society
is ' outward-oriented ' (as, for example, Sri Lanka at present is).
Perhaps a good example of the influence of the societal climate is the fact
that we are hardly interested in learning Tamil which is more advantageous for
effective communication
within
the
country,
while we are much more interested
in learning English (which provides for less communication within the coun-
try,13 but more without).
mentally as well as genetically.
112
13.
Learning Tamil would allow the Sinhalese to speak to all the Tamils in the country
directly, face to face, whereas learning English would enable one to communicate with
only some Tamils.
113
S. H.J. SUGUNASIRI
III.
Some implications for learning and teaching a second language
in Sri Lanka
The preceding theoretical discussion leads to some very interesting practical
questions in the light of the current interest in teaching English as a second
language. My task here is merely to raise the questions.
Our entire discussion was based on ' bilingualism ' (which term relates to
the ability to speak (two) languages. But the very first question one could
raise is : "What is our functional goal in teaching English in Sri Lanka ? Is it
to speak it ? Or to be able to read (and understand)" ?14.
This question naturally leads to a second question : " To what use are we
going to put English " ? If the answer to this latter question is " To enable us
to speak to English speakers in the
world",
the answer to the former question
" What is our functional goal ? " is obvious : " To be able to speak the
language ".
A lively discussion can ensue.
" To speak English ", the theoretician might argue, " is to be integratively
motivated ", [if we recall the distinction between integrative and instrumental
motivation.] " That is, to integrate with the local sub-culture (for, ability to
speak the language is the first criteria for membership), or to integrate into a
society which speaks English, such as say UK, US, Canada, Australia etc."
" Which is another way of saying' to lead them out of the country in search
of greener pasture ' " joins in the nationalist.
" It is also to give our children a different cultural orientation ", the
cultural anthropologist and the philosopher of language might add.
To get back to our original question " What is our functional goal ? ",
there can be a second answer : to be able to read (and understand) an
instrumental motivation.
Then a question arises : " Who is it that would want to read in English ? "
Assuming that by reading is meant reading material unavailable in the native
language, but indispensable to the acquiring of a right view (knowledge), then
the answer is " Those who pursue higher studies".
Another discussion ensues.
" Why not everyone ? Surely, is it not best if our children could read
whatever they wanted in English at every level ? ", the wo rid-view-man could
ask.
" At what cost ? " joins in the economist (of education). " What national
benefit would a scheme to teach everyone to speak English accrue ? "
14.
In the literature on
reading,
the work 'read'
is
used to mean only "reading with understan-
ding" and not merely producing the sounds.
114
BILINGUALISM AND SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING
Now enters the nationalist. " Why English at all, right now ? We
should first be able to speak to each other in our own country. So it is Tamil
(and Sinhala) that should be first taught as Second Languages ".
" This is in the new educational proposals ", explains the Ministry official.
"Very well", responds the nationalist eagerly. "Then the next step
should be to be able to speak to our neighbours. Thus Hindi should get next
preference. Only after that should we have English".
" May 1 pick up from where you stopped ? I suggest that simultaneously
with English should be introduced (on a limited scale, like English) French,15
Russian,16 German,17 Chinese,18 Spanish,19 and Swahili,20 to enable our
children to establish contacts not only with the Anglo-Saxons, but the rest of
the peoples, too. Particularly with the Latin American and African people
who are engaged in a similar battle for national development, and from whom
we can learn a lot, and with whom we can share a lot ". That, of course, was
the voice of the third-world revolutionary.
" But gentlemen, we are back to where we started. My question merits
repetition : " At what cost" ?", asks the economist.
In response to which another question comes : " My question is merely
this.
Is it more expensive to teach every child to speak English ? Or to teach
all the nine languages (including Tamil/Sinhala) only to that limited few who
are going to make instrumental use2l of them (i.e. for the limited purpose of
research, international trade, etc.) ?", reiterates the nationalist-cum-third
world revolutionary, this time supported by the internationalist.
" May be my research on the subject might shed some light here ", joins
in Artemov, the Soviet.
"If life requires the use of only part of a foreign language, (e.g.,
to read medical or engineering books, while living within your own ethnic
culture, with no integrative intentions) and the time allocated to its
15.
Spoken by the Frenchmen and the Canadians (not only of the Province of Quebec and in
pockets all over the country, but by a fair number of English-speaking Canadians, too),
in the former Fre nch colonies of Africa, in Mauritius and Madagascar, Vietnam and
Cambodia, in Switzerland and all over Europe, including East European countires.
16.
Spoken not only in the Soviet Union, but in most, if not all, socialist countries of East
Europe, too, (where it is compulsory in schools).
17.
Spoken in Germany (West and East), all East European countries (more than even
French), 200,000 in Toronto (Canada) alone, and more elsewhere in Canada, and in the
US.
(In the Soviet Union, too ?)
18.
750 million of them in the People's Republic of China, 20 million more in Taiwan and
some more in Hong kong and some other Far-Eastern countries, and in the major cities
of the world (where a 'Chinatown' symbolizes their existence).
19.
In Spain, the entire South American continent and Mexico, and the Puerto Ricans in
York and the poor Americans in California ?
20.
In East Africa (e.g., Tanzania).
21.
'Instrumental use' here, with reference to languages like Swahili, Hindi and Spanish,
could be to read the literautre in original, or for foreign service.
115
S. H.J. SUGUNASIR1
study is extremely limited, then why, under these circumstances, study
the entire system of the language ?"22
To explain, based on this thinking, Artemov and his associates computed
mathematically the frequency of English linguistic patterns in medical texts
that students of medicine were required to read. This formed his micro-langu-
age (of English) which future students of medicine would be taught to be able
to read research on the subject. Could similar research into material in diffe-
rent languages on the various topics be undertaken ? Or, is this necessary ?
What would the costs and benefits of such a program be ?
A related question stems from the hypothesis that not everyone may have
the aptitude to learn a language. However, much money, time and effort is
put into it, one may not be able to or find it difficult to teach music to a child
who has no aptitude. Or may be the results are not worth the trouble. Simi-
larly may be with language.
The next question, arising from the above (hypothetical) discussion is,
" At what age should English be introduced " ? Of course, learning theory
relating to languages cannot help us here, since the discussion above tells us
that there's no one optimal age for learning a language. All it tells
is that we have to use different methods for different ages and different purposes.
One of the major contentions of Ausubel (p. 420) is that
there is no good reason for believing that methods which yield satis-
factory results with children must necessarily be appropriate for adults.
The same line of thinking underlies Saporta's rejection (in V., p. 84) of the audio-
lingual method (" requiring to relate a symbol directly with an environmental
event rather than indirectly to the first language ") as the most efficient method
under all circumstances. It was found that one method was relatively more
efficient in one situation, while the same method produced poorer results under
different conditions (p. 120).
What all this amounts to is simply this. It is not the age that matters
really. It is the
method.
The best results are obtained only when due considera-
tion is given to all
the
aspects of each learner's situation, such as age, intelligence,
language background, the goals of S.L. study, etc.
There is one final question : " What level proficiency should our students
be required to achieve ? " Assuming our goal to be speaking ability, is it
necessary that they achieve "bilingual balance", i.e., be equally proficient in
speaking both the native tongue and the S.L. ? Shouldn't the student's
attempt be to retain " linguistic dominance " of his own mother tongue
so that he may not be uprooted entirely from his soil (culture) ? Again, need
they reach the third and highest stage of " culturally reacting " to the new lan-
guage? Or even reach the second stage (i.e. " automaticity")
?
Isn't
" first stage " learning (i.e. learning the basic phonological and the gram-
matical system) not sufficient ?
22.
"Basic problems in the modern Psychology of foreign language study : Conditions for
the effectiveness of teaching methods," Artemov, V. A., Soviet Education, December
1967,
p. 13..
116
BIL1NGUALISM AND SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING
A related question is, " What place literature ? " in our English curriculum.
Literary appreciation is literary appreciation, whatever language. All children
do have literature in their own language curriculum. So that a case for litera-
ture in English cannot be made on the basis of the importance of literary appre-
ciation. Again, literary appreciation calls for the highest stage of SL learning
as a pre-requisite ; i.e., one must have a thorough grasp of the intricacies of the
particular language before being able to appreciate the nuances of meaning,
variety of style, evoking of particular sentiments in the reader, etc.
To summarize, in the first two parts of the paper, an attempt was made to
present a theoretical picture of the bilingual and second language learning pro-
cesses, during the course of which certain factors at work were discussed in
some detail. The third part was devoted to a discussion on the place ot
English in the school curriculum, the purpose of the exercise being not to
provide answers to this knotty question, but (hopefully) to lead the reader to
some fruitful thinking on the often-talked-of but not-much-done-about topic.
117
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... Another process that might affect educational achievement is the early acquisition and continuous use of two (or more) languages. Accumulating research suggests that prior knowledge of multiple languages among bilingual children leads to advantages in learning new languages (e.g., Cummins, 1992;Hirosh & Degani, 2018). The advantage was associated to advanced meta-linguistic competence, reflected in high levels of linguistic awareness, and a focus on language forms and analysis (e.g., Maluch & Kempert, 2017;Schwartz & Gorbatt, 2016). ...
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... English (or other dominant) literacy would suffer or be compromised with the addition and acquisition of more than one language, and it affirmed that literacy in the home language of minority students supports their literacy in the second (dominant) language or language of schooling (e.g., Cummins, 1981Cummins, , 1993. Empirical studies in bilingualism and multilingualism from the 1990s to the present consistently upheld the recommendation that languages should be taught using strategies that acknowledge that bilingual and multilingual students' language skills are not separated when they learn, but rather that they overlap and interrelate -and thus that educational policies and pedagogical approaches to second and foreign/heritage language teaching and bilingual and immersion education needs to encourage including students' first language and full repertoire when learning an additional language (see Cummins, 2001Cummins, , 2007Baker, 2011;Reed & Mady, 2014). ...
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Chapter
This book is a collection of papers that explore the ways in which bilingual children cope with two language systems. The papers address issues in linguistics, psychology, and education bearing on the abilities that bilingual children use to understand language, to perform highly specialised operations with language, and to function in school settings. All of the papers provide detailed analysis about how specific problems are solved, how bilingualism influences those solutions, and how the social context affects the process. Finally, the implications of these findings for policy-setting and the development of bilingual education programmes are explored. This will be an important and useful volume at the forefront of topical research in an area which is exciting increasing interest among linguists and cognitive scientists.
Chapter
This book is a collection of papers that explore the ways in which bilingual children cope with two language systems. The papers address issues in linguistics, psychology, and education bearing on the abilities that bilingual children use to understand language, to perform highly specialised operations with language, and to function in school settings. All of the papers provide detailed analysis about how specific problems are solved, how bilingualism influences those solutions, and how the social context affects the process. Finally, the implications of these findings for policy-setting and the development of bilingual education programmes are explored. This will be an important and useful volume at the forefront of topical research in an area which is exciting increasing interest among linguists and cognitive scientists.
Chapter
This book is a collection of papers that explore the ways in which bilingual children cope with two language systems. The papers address issues in linguistics, psychology, and education bearing on the abilities that bilingual children use to understand language, to perform highly specialised operations with language, and to function in school settings. All of the papers provide detailed analysis about how specific problems are solved, how bilingualism influences those solutions, and how the social context affects the process. Finally, the implications of these findings for policy-setting and the development of bilingual education programmes are explored. This will be an important and useful volume at the forefront of topical research in an area which is exciting increasing interest among linguists and cognitive scientists.
Article
The hypothesis that access to two languages in the preschool period might promote metalinguistic development was subjected to empirical verification. The method of parallel groups with paired equalisation procedure was used. At first, two experimental groups (both N=22) with Serbo‐Croatian as first language, the members of which were exposed through immersion or a mainstream education programme to a foreign language (French or English), were compared with a Serbo‐Croatian monolingual (N=22) group in metalinguistic development. Also a Hungarian‐Serbo‐Croatian minority bilingual group (N=20), participating in a language maintenance programme, was compared with a Hungarian monolingual group (N=20). The comparisons showed that early bilingual experience could enhance metalinguistic awareness and an analytic approach to linguistic phenomena by a readiness to replace one word with another, to compare words, or to break words into syllables and phonemes, especially by an active use of the second language in a theoretically based instructional programme. It was also shown that children with bilingual preschool experience (N=50), in contrast to monolingual children (N=30), as judged by teachers, had more developed psychological functions such as concentration, synthesis and abstraction, employed in reading acquisition. Theoretical explanations of the results are given concerning relations between language and thought in mental ontogenesis and assumptions on possible effects of early bilingualism on cognitive development. According to the results obtained, bilingual experience directs thought to the essential aspects of the environment, promoting a more analytic orientation towards language phenomena.
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Bilingual and unilingual students in a grade‐eight English‐French bilingual programme in Ontario were compared on measures of French proficiency. Forty‐seven students were selected on the basis of their first language: English, Italian or a non‐Romance language. French proficiency was measured using two written cloze tests and two oral story‐telling tasks. One of each pair of tests was presented in a context‐reduced condition and the other in a context‐embedded condition. As hypothesised, bilinguals were found to perform significantly better than unilinguals on almost all the measures. No differences were discernible, however, with respect to their performance on context‐embedded and context‐reduced tasks. It was concluded that knowing a second language facilitates the learning of a third language and thus, bilingual children are excellent candidates for French immersion programmes.
Chapter
This book is a collection of papers that explore the ways in which bilingual children cope with two language systems. The papers address issues in linguistics, psychology, and education bearing on the abilities that bilingual children use to understand language, to perform highly specialised operations with language, and to function in school settings. All of the papers provide detailed analysis about how specific problems are solved, how bilingualism influences those solutions, and how the social context affects the process. Finally, the implications of these findings for policy-setting and the development of bilingual education programmes are explored. This will be an important and useful volume at the forefront of topical research in an area which is exciting increasing interest among linguists and cognitive scientists.