Bilingualism

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As a bilingual and biliterate student, I found this passage particularly interesting. There are parts that I do and do not agree with. The authors state that "the best predictor of whether we'll become fluent is the age of acquisition: All things being equal, the earlier, the better(Johnson & Newport, 1989)" I completely agree with this statement. I began to learn Spanish when I was five years old. I attended a dual-immersion school, in which the curriculum was taught in both English and Spanish. We began our schooling on a 90-10 model. This means that for the first two years of schooling (kindergarten and 1st grade) I was taught 90% in Spanish and 10% in English. With every year, English curriculum increased by 10% and Spanish curriculum decreased by 10%, so that by the fifth grade we were taught on a 50-50 model. This method of schooling provided even amounts of both language curriculum for both native English and Spanish speakers. Native English speakers like myself developed rich Spanish accents by the third grade, and Native Spanish speakers developed clear English accents by the third grade. (I can demonstrate for you if you'd like) If you were to put myself and one of my native Spanish speaking friends behind a curtain and had us both speak in each language, you would not be able to decipher who was the native English speaker and who was the native Spanish speaker.
The book asks the question "How do bilingual persons fluent in two languages keep them straight, and how are these languages organized in their brains?" My answer to this is that we never even have to think about it, it basically just like a light switch. You can flip to whichever language you want to use, without any thought to it. I can hear or read something in Spanish and immediately start thinking and speaking in Spanish. Honestly I dream in Spanish, my Mom and friends have caught me sleep talking in Spanish multiple times. For bilingual individuals, we can read a book in Spanish, but then have a discussion about it in English. There have been multiple times where I have had to read a book in Spanish and write a book report on it in English, it truly is no struggle for us.
Another topic that the book discusses is delays in language, specifically with syntax. Although there is research to back it, I personally do not believe it to be true. I would like to know how exactly being bilingual would impare you to form sentences. In my view, we are able to form sentences in two languages and have a very wide vocabulary, therefore it is easier for us to form sentences. Again, this is my personal belief and if anyone has any specific information towards this, please let me know! I do agree, however, that with being bilingual comes a variety of long-term benefits and heightened mentalinguistic insight.
All in all, I believe that being bilingual will provide you with many benefits and opportunities in life. I highly advocate early learning dual-immersion programs and the teaching methods that go along with it.

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This page contains a single entry by infan011 published on October 23, 2011 9:39 PM.

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