Addressing the bilingual factor -insights, influences and its impact on education Máire Ní Ríordáin Lecturer in Education, NUI Galway
Up to 16th century – Irish and its associated culture/traditions dominant throughout the island 1921 – The Free 17th/18th/19thState – intended to History centuries – English restore the Irish colonisation of language and its of Irish Ireland/Famine –use throughout the dramatic decline in country. the use of Irish. 2000+ - consolidation at constitutional level; use in legal/public sector; official language of EU; national media; growth of Irish- medium education.
Socio-Political Concerns (Kelly 2009)Decisions • Political in nature • Irish-medium educationNew State (1921) central to policy plans • Detrimental to studentCompulsion learning and the language
Socio-Political Concerns (Kelly 2009) • Compulsion removed 1960’s • Catalyst for change As Lord Charlemont, the Stormont Minister of Education said, „forbidding it (Irish) under pressure willand access it to • Importance of choice stimulate Social such an extreme that the very dogs –Structures at any rate, the Falls Road dogs – will • Immersion (as cited by Purdon 1999, bark in Irish‟ Irish-medium education p.59) (Gaelscoileanna/ Galecholáistí) established in 1970’s the 1970‟s.
The Irish ContextGaeltacht –Irish speaking district.(Maintenance Heritage Language Education)Gaelscoil –Irish medium primary school outside of aGaeltacht area.(Immersion Education)Gaelcholáiste –Irish medium second level school outsideof a Gaeltacht area.(Immersion Education)
Bilingualism Psycholinguistics views language as an individual cognitive phenomenon (theoretical framework for providing empirical results, theories, concepts, definitions, etc.). Sociolinguistics stresses the social nature of language, starting from the assumption that language is not only cognitive but also cultural, social, and situated (theoretical framework for studying discourse e.g. linguistic registers and classroom discourse). Bilingualism is „the product of a specific linguistic community that uses one of its languages for certain functions and the other for other functions or situations‟ (Valdés-Fallis 1978, p.4)
SUP vs CUP• Two languages stored separately. • Internally: Both languages are merged – do not•Increase in one language will result function independently of each other.in a loss of some of the other. • Outwardly:•Bilingualism = cognitive overload Both languages are different in conversation. Separate Underlying Proficiency Common Underlying Proficiency
Task Is the following sentence grammatically correct - “Apples grow on noses.”? Dr E. Bialystok (New York Time, May 30th 2011) As she conducted her research, she noticed that there was a big difference in the way monolingual and bilingual children processed language. She found that if you gave 5- and 6-year-olds language problems to solve, monolingual and bilingual children knew, pretty much, the same amount of language. But on one question, there was a difference. The monolingual children could not answer. They would say, “That‟s silly” and they would stall. But the bilingual children would say, in their own words, “It‟s silly, but it‟s grammatically correct.” The bilinguals, manifested a cognitive system with the ability to attend to important information and ignore the less important.
Theoretical FrameworkCummins - Threshold Hypothesis (1976):Certain threshold that one must reach in their 1st and 2nd languages before thebenefits of studying in a 2nd language can develop.Type of Bilingualism Cognitive Effect Balanced Positive High levels in both languages Higher Threshold Less Balanced Neither positive nor negative Native in one of the languages Limited Lower Threshold Negative Low level in both languages
Additive and Subtractive BilingualismAdditive bilingualismoccurs when a secondlanguage and culture havebeen acquired withoutloss or displacement of anindividual’s first languageand culture. Positive self-concept usually Subtractive bilingualismdeveloped. occurs when an individual’s first language and culture are replaced by the new language and culture, usually occurring in a pressurised context. Negative self-concept usually developed.
Literature FindingsNegative results for learning are associated with subtractive bilingual environments (e.g. Adetula, 1990; Galligan, 1995; Han & Ginsberg, 2001; Marsh et al, 2000; Barton et al, 2005). Positive results for learning are associated with additive bilingual environments(e.g. De Courcy & Burston, 2000; Swain, 1996; Turnball et al, 2000; Williams, 2002).Language proficiency and cognitive performance are related (e.g. Barton et al, 2005; Frigo et al, 2004; Marsh et al, 2000;Yushau & Bokhari, 2005)
Psycholinguistics Theorist TheoryVygotsky (1962) Language is inextricably linked with thoughtSapir (1949)-Whorf (1956) The language we speak facilitates our thinking and perceptionBruner (1975) Language is an essential instrument of thought and is necessary for understanding.Sierpinska (1994) Thought is engaged in our understanding, thus language is involved in developing our understanding. Having two or more languages facilitates greater cognitive flexibility in terms of thinking, processing, comprehending and understanding.
Advantages of BilingualismSome of the advantages of bilingualism documented in literature include:• Curriculum Advantages • Greater academic success. • Easier to learn a third and fourth language.• Communicative Advantages • Bilingualism (the ability to speak two languages fluently). • Biliteracy (the ability to read and write in two languages). • Wider communication (extended family, community, friends, employment).• Cultural Advantages • Broader exposure to and appreciation of the value of various cultures (enculturation), deeper multiculturalism, greater tolerance and less racism.• Cognitive Advantages • Thinking benefits (flexibility, creativity, sensitivity to communication).• Character Advantages • Raised self-esteem. • Security in identity.• Financial Advantages • Economic and employment benefits. (adapted from Baker, 2003)
Research Findings in the Irish Context Positive cognitive advantages For mathematical learning at primary, post-primary and third level education, once ability in both languages (Irish and English) have been developed – outperformed monolingual students (Ní Ríordáin & O’ Donoghue, 2009). Display greater meta-cognitive skills when engaged in problem solving (Ní Ríordáin & McCluskey 2012): Comprehension of the problem. Self-correction. Selecting appropriate features in the problem. Knowledge of strategies
Research Findings in the Irish Context Shiel et al. (2011). Pupils in 2nd and 6th classes in SLG, and pupils in 6th class in Gaeltacht schools achieved significantly higher mean scores on English reading than pupils in the NA 2009. Pupils in 2nd class in SLG achieved a significantly higher mean score on mathematics than pupils in the NA 2009; pupils in Gaeltacht schools and NA 2009 were not significantly different. Pupils in 6th class in Gaeltacht schools achieved a significantly higher mean score on mathematics than pupils in NA 2009; pupils in SLG and NA 2009 were not significantly different from one another.
Insights, Influences and Impact onEducation Research has shown that the added value of a well-implemented Two Way Immersion programme is that all children learn to read and write in two languages to a relatively high standard (e.g. Genesee and Dándara 1999, Kielhöfer 2004, Söhn 2005). Furthermore, "the development of additive bilingual and biliteracy skills entails no negative consequences for children‟s academic, linguistic, or intellectual development” (Cummins 1996, p.109) and that in some situations it can also bring cognitive, as well as social and intercultural benefits. Need to consider the socio-political aspect. Compulsion may not foster desired outcomes. The need for greater awareness, development and promotion of bilingualism in our education system – e.g. new Junior Cycle changes?