ECE 315: Language Development in Early Childhood
Prof. Kathleen Kelley
July 28, 2011
Impact of Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism on Language Development
There is nothing more remarkable than the emergence of language in children. As adults, we find it difficult to understand children on their journey to learn a language. We overlook the facts that we are not born speaking properly and that this is a learned trait. Language development is an exciting period in a child’s life. To be able to watch a child’s abilities to understand, process, and produce their native or another language is amazing. Children go through many developmental stages while becoming fluent in a language, often a language that is not their native.
“Language is essential to society. It forms the foundation of our perceptions, communications, and daily interactions. It is a system of symbols by which we categorize, organize, and clarify our thinking” (Otto 2010). It becomes a task to teach a child how to properly learn a language or any language. With language development, a child must have an understanding of how language mechanisms work. Teaching a child the proper knowledge of language could be a daunting task if the teacher does not understand the child’s background. Every child comes from a different cultural background, often with different dialects spoken. As a teacher, we must teach the knowledge of phonetics, semantics, syntactic, and morphemic, before attempting to introduce a child to a second language. “The syntactic, semantic, morphemic, phonetic, and pragmatic aspects of the two languages may be significantly different” (Otto 2010).
“Children who are exposed to two languages at home acquire both languages as “first languages”” (Otto 2010). Bilingualism is becoming more known in the US. More parents want their children to grow up knowing, in this case, both English and Spanish. With experience with two home languages, it does not take a child long to pick up on and acquire all concepts of both languages if the languages are spoken norm within the household. Having a family member speak both English and Spanish fluently by the age of 8 (includes proper or “Formal” English and Spanish) was remarkable. Now knowing how complex learning two languages can be for children puts those teachers/parents that teach a second language on a pedestal due to the fact of having persistence and patience to learn to understand the child. It is known that when learning two languages, the child will begin to speak in both languages simultaneously and not have a clue they are doing so. This does make it harder on the teacher/parent that does not speak both languages. “The acquisition of a second language will follow the same sequence as development of the first language with receptive and expressive knowledge of the oral language development first, followed by knowledge of the written language; however, learning difficulties may occur in the classrooms where the curriculum expectations do not acknowledge the need to first acquire target language oral competency before instruction in target written language” (Otto 2010). As previously mentioned, children who are considered “simultaneous or successive bilingualism” will have more difficulty in the classroom transitioning from one language to another. Often times, English is the primary language in the classroom. The child, when speaking, will start the answer/statement off in English, but quickly convert to Spanish without knowing (language interference). It will make it difficult for the teacher to understand the child if he/she does not speak the L2 language. “It appears that children acquire bilingualism with less confusion when the languages are kept separate by the parent or caregiver who speaks them” (Otto 2010). The cognitive development of learning two languages...