Bilingualism The ability that some individuals have, in varying degrees, to use two languages (Baker, 2001). There is a ‘strong’ and a ‘weak’ version of bilingualism (Baker, 2001; Elmiger, 2000; Gleason & Ratner, 1998; Moreno 1998).
Native Bilingualism Bilingualism dating from simultaneous learning of two languages during the initial stages of language acquisition (Arnberg, 1987; Kessler, 1984; Taeschner, 1983). “Producing native bilingual children is not easy, and neither is maintaining their bilingual skills when they are living in an environment that uses only one of the languages (Gleason & Ratner, 1998)
Children need at least 20 hours of exposure to a language per week to acquire productive skills in it (Pearson, Fernandez, Lewedeg, & Oller, 1999). “Passive” bilingualism (Kamada 1997).
Language Planning at home Languages to be used at home Monolingual families Bilingual/plurilingual families What language(s) for the children?
Strategies1. One person, one language2. Language of home vs language of the community3. Mixed languages
Language Delay & Low Achievement Children’s linguistic production can be delayed in native bilinguals, or they may do poorly in school (Baker 2000). Children learning two languages may show low vocabulary scores during preschool years (Baker, 2001; Gleason & Ratner, 1998). However, Doyle et al. (1977) found that bilingual preschoolers are not delayed.
Bilingual programs are not as effective as expected (Amsell, 1996; Gonzalez, 1981) Some researchers, however, think that bilinguals have advantages over monolinguals (Baker, 1998, 2000 and 2001; Diaz, 1985; Garcia, 1990; Hakuta, 1984, 1985, and 1990; Kloosterman & Diaz, 1995; Saunders, 1982).
Among these, abstract thinking, immediate translation, metalinguistic ability, and non-verbal/abstract thinking are mentioned. Some other studies also argue that early bilingualism can have a positive effect on subsequent adult language learning Doyle et al., 1977). There is also serious criticism regarding bilingual education policies (Campoverde 1985; Charter, 1991; Gonzales 1993; Hakuta, 1990).
Code Switching Utterances where elements of both languages are used; i.e. Spanglish (Baker, 2000; Diaz, 1985 Taeschner, 1983; Fantini, 1985; Zentella, 1981). Considered by some as evidence that bilinguals speak neither language really well (Gleason & Ratner, 1998). Some researchers have found that CS may be due to inconsistencies in the input(Doyle et al, 1977).
Unitary Language System Hypothesis Related to Code-Switching, it argues that in bilingual children there is only one system underlying production in both languages (Baker, 2001; Kessler, 1984). Some researchers (Bergman, 1975; Kessler, 1984) believe that, in fact, there are two stages of development, single and differentiated.
Language Attrition/One Language Dominance Losing one language through disuse (Gleason & Ratner, 1998; Kamada, 1997)). In bilinguals, term referring to the fact that bilinguals will tend to lose one language in time (Kamada, 1997- mother’s language). Dominance refers to the fact that bilinguals are unlikely to be equally good in all aspects of both languages (Grosjean, 1982).
Metalinguistic Awareness Ability to reflect on one’s language use and knowledge (Gleason & Ratner, 1998; Genesee, Boivin, & Nicoladis, 1996; Hakuta, 1990; Hakuta & Diaz, 1985; Kessler, 1984; Reynolds, 1990). For example, children know when and with whom they should use each language, can identify the two languages, and are ‘experts’ in translation.
Advantages of Native bilingualism Natural process, free of sociolinguistic prejudice. Language preservation or revitalization. Multilingual/multi-cultural individuals that can function in a variety of contexts.