Ece 315

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Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism

ECE 315 Language Development in Young Children

Carmen Anderson

March 13, 2011

In America, there is a predominant growth in multiple ethnicities and cultural backgrounds; leading to the usage of multiple languages in the American culture. There is a growing need for many people to learn and utilize multiple languages within the workplace and within one's own personal life. The importance of bilingualism and the knowledge of multiple languages is ever increasing, and therefore becoming more important for the younger generations. The push for knowing multiple languages and becoming bilingual has many potential negative and positive effects.

Bilingualism is the ability to use two languages when communicating orally or in writing. The usage of multiple languages within the American culture is becoming very common and beneficial. It is difficult because as teacher you always have to find new and interesting methods in order to arouse learner’s interest, but at the same time it is enjoyable since teachers are given the opportunity to work with them. For myself, I enjoy working with bilingual children; I as a caregiver try to learn the students’ first language so that I will be able to communicate with them as much as possible in their native language.

Currently in my classroom I have a German native. His name is Lucas and he is fifteen months old. His mother is German and his father is an American soldier. Both of his parents speak English and German. So at home they communicate with him in both languages. I talk to his mother and father on a daily basis to find out new words in German so that I can talk to him in both languages. I have discovered that some words that I do say in German he really does respond to them better, than if I would tell him to do something in English.

Second language acquisition is the process of learning other languages in addition to the native language. Second language acquisition is a long process which can include many stages. For instance, a child who speaks German as the mother tongue starts learning English when he/she starts going to school. English is learned by the process of second language acquisition. Students of second language acquisition go through the same stages of learning, the period of learning varies. Some students tend to learn better by responding to visuals and pictures. There are many positive benefits in the acquisition of a second language and bilingualism.

There are many positive affective factors for second language acquisition and bilingualism. Some positive factors can be listed as: the student’s attitude towards learning the new language, the teacher motivational attitude, and the proficiency in the student’s first language. Also learning a second language at an early age can have a positive effect on intellectual growth, and also enhance and enrich the child’s mental and development. Furthermore it can open the doors of opportunities to other cultures and help the children learn and appreciate other people from other countries.

There are two types of bilingualism. The first type is simultaneous bilingualism. Simultaneous bilingualism is when children acquire two languages prior to the age three. Simultaneous bilingualism normally happens when the language used at home is different from language used in the community or school. The parents, caregivers or other family members might not speak the language of the school or the community, or the parents could speak two or more languages but have made a decision about which language they speak with the child. (http://www.brainy-child.com/article/bilingual.shtm)  

The second type of bilingualism is successive bilingualism. “Successive bilingualism refers to instances in which a child acquire their second language after the age of three” (Otto, 2010, pg. 71). Once they have reached the successive...
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