Bilingual Language Acquisition

 

 

Introduction

Bingual language acquisition

The terms bilingual and bilingualism have received diverse definitions. In this book, bilingual (the person), and bilingualism (the condition or state of affairs) refer to the use of two (or more) languages in everyday life. Two major patterns of language acquisition have been identified in studies of early bilingualism: simultaneous bilingualism and sequential bilingualism, but no agreement exists with respect to the age at which bilingual development would be considered to be sequential. In simultaneous bilingualism, the child acquires two languages at the same time from birth or, as some researchers propose, before 3 years of age. Here, I use the term Bilingual First Language Acquisition (BFLA, or 2L1) to refer to situations where the child’s exposure to two languages begins at birth (cf. De Houwer 2009: Ch. 1). This means that the question of the effect that different ages of first exposure to a language may have on the development of bilingual competence is not relevant in BFLA, but it is in sequential bilingualism. The latter could be differentiated, depending on when acquisition of a second language begins, into: (a) successive bilingualism, when the child’s exposure to a second language starts sometime between the first and third birthdays; and (b) early second language acquisition, a form of early bilingualism that happens when a child has one established language before starting to hear and learn a second language (De Houwer 2009: 4). This book focuses on BFLA – that is, on the acquisition of two languages from birth, Spanish and English in this case. The overall goal is to examine whether bilingualism affects the course of development in each language, and if so, how.

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The Study of Language by George Yule | 5th Edition

The Study of Language has proven itself to be the student and instructor choice for first courses in language and linguistics because of its accessible approach to, what is often, a complicated subject. In every edition, readers have praised the book for being easy to follow, simple to understand, and fun to read, with its quirky anecdotes and examples of languages from around the world. Now in its fifth edition, it is further strengthened by the addition of new student ‘tasks’ (guiding readers to connect theory to real-world scenarios), including examples from even more foreign languages, and updating the text to reflect the most current linguistic theory. We will also be offering an enriched learning experience with our new enhanced eBook (publishing in June), which will include pop-up glossary terms, embedded audio and interactive questioning. All of these features make this the most student-friendly edition of the textbook yet.

Paragraph above by Valerie Appleby, Development Editor, Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press announces launch of the Journal of Linguistic Geography

Posted on behalf of Editors William Labov and Dennis Preston

Introduction

Cambridge University Press is pleased to announce the launch of the new online-only Journal of Linguistic Geography (JLG). The journal’s goal is to open the flow of linguistic analysis using electronic formats (such as scalable maps and figures, searchable data sets, and embedded audio files) in a field that has long been blocked by technical factors. For all new subscribers, a comprehensive User Experience Guide provides an overview of the journal’s interactive capacities. Submissions to the journal are welcome and may be sent to linguisticgeography@okstate.edu. Queries are welcome, too.

The journal is an official publication of the International Conference on Methods in Dialectology. Editors Bill Labov (University of Pennsylvania) and Dennis R. Preston (Oklahoma State University) are supported by Technical Editor Bartłomiej Plichta (University of Minnesota). The full editorial board can be viewed here.

The Journal of Linguistic Geography: From Concept to Creation

The stacks of our libraries are filled with magnificent atlases of linguistic geography. File cabinets throughout the world are filled with papers that have never appeared, faced with the problem of reducing maps to small black-and-white versions that convey only a small part of the information in the original.

There will be no limit on the size of maps submitted to the Journal of Linguistic Geography; they will be viewed in their entirety with the panning and zooming options that are second nature to users of the internet. Color is as fundamental as size in cartography, and in electronic publication, color is no more difficult or expensive than black-and-white.

Even more crucial to analytical reading is the relation between map and text, which in print may require a back-and-forth paging operation that challenges memory and even lead to accepting (or rejecting) the author’s statement without making a point-by-point inspection. In the Journal of Linguistic Geography, maps and figures open in a new window, allowing the reader to make a direct comparison between what is said and what is shown.

A further advantage of the journal’s format is that of sound samples in the electronic page. They will not replace IPA notation, but rather serve to refine and encourage the use of phonetic notation.

Reading the Journal of Linguistic Geography will also show that technical innovations are not confined to modes of display. New developments in mathematical analysis of spatial patterns are represented and may include substantial appendices, since the space limitations of print journals do not apply.

So much for form. But what about content?

To put it simply, linguistic geography is concerned with the spatial differentiation of linguistic forms. Teachers of introductory linguistics find that students are fascinated with the fact there are regions nearby where speakers use ‘X’ to refer to what is (“rightly”) called ‘Y.’ This fascination with the facts of the matter impedes rather than encourages the development of our field as a branch of linguistic science. JLG hopes to mobilize those facts in pursuit of a better understanding of the nature of language structure and language change. Our interest is focused on those connections within language that reflect the impact of a given change on other members of the system. A submission that traces distribution of isolated forms or sounds will receive our full attention when it is woven into the fabric of relations that turn words into language.

We do not disprefer studies of the lexicon, but we encourage authors to display the use of a form against the background of competing and complimentary forms, showing what meanings are found for a given form as well as what forms are found for a given meaning.

Fields of structural relationships are most clearly delineated in phonology, and we would be surprised not to receive submissions dealing with the geography of chain shifts, splits and mergers, but we hope to deal with the geography of the full range of linguistic structures.

We invite studies of the perception of speech as well as production. We are interested in both how linguistic varieties across and within regions are heard and processed and how non-linguists perceive the spatial distribution of varieties, particularly when such studies shed light on the characteristics of language variation and change.

The fact that we are named the Journal of Linguistic Geography is not without significance, but the linguistics we appeal to is not just that of the internal relations of linguistic forms. It is also outwardly defined to include the social, historical and economic contexts in which language is formed and used. Thus we expect to find maps reflecting population growth and movement, out- and in-migration, political trends and voting records as well as highway and railroad networks.

Our Editorial Board comprises a group of distinguished linguists from throughout the world.  Learn more about these board members and how their own published work illustrates research of the scope and quality we hope to feature in the journal.

Taking the pulse of eye-movement research: Special issue of Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

Published on behalf of Aline Godfroid, Paula Winke and Susan Gass

Understanding how languages are learned involves investigating the cognitive processes that underlie acquisition. Many methodologies have been used over the years to comprehend these processes, but one of recent prominence is eye-movement recording, colloquially referred to as eye-tracking. Eye-tracking consists of the registration, in real time, of what an individual looks at and for how long. Thus, eye-trackers provide information about the duration and location of an individual’s eye movements on a computer screen as he or she reads text or listens to audio. Because eye-tracking is still a relatively novel technique in research on adult second language learning, we put together a thematic issue on this topic. The special issue brings together an international group of eye-tracking experts who use eye-movement data to study a variety of language-related questions. The issue also contains important methodological recommendations for colleagues who are interested in using eye-trackers for their own research.

Following an introductory chapter by Leah Roberts and Anna Siyanova-Chanturia, we have organized the empirical articles in this volume into two broad categories: (a) the processing of verbs and verb parts (morphology) and (b) the processing of grammatical gender. Eva Van Assche, Wouter Duyck, and Marc Brysbaert report findings from an empirical study about the organization of the bilingual lexicon. They investigated whether bilingual speakers process cognates (e.g., English win – Dutch winnen) faster, even if the cognate words are embedded in a unilingual sentence context, which presumably constrains which language is to be activated in the brain. Nuria Sagarra and Nick Ellis investigated the effect of participants’ native language and second language proficiency on their second language processing strategies. They compared what linguistic cue (an adverb or a verb ending) learners of Spanish preferred, depending on whether their native language was, like Spanish, a morphologically rich language (i.e., Romanian) or, unlike Spanish, a morphologically poor language (i.e., English). Aline Godfroid and Maren Uggen examined whether beginning learners of German notice irregular features in German verbs during sentence reading and, if they do, whether this helps them reproduce the verbs correctly afterwards. Paula Winke studied the effects of underlining and printing grammatical constructions in a text in red—a technique known as input enhancement—on second language learners’ attention to and learning of these grammar forms. Whereas all other research in this volume concerns written sentence processing, Paola Dussias, Jorge Valdés Kroff, Rosa Guzzardo Tamargo, and Chip Gerfen used eye-tracking to investigate language learners’ use of grammatical gender in auditory sentence processing. Finally, Patti Spinner, Susan Gass, and Jennifer Behney took a step back and considered the technical constraints that eye-tracking imposes on reading research and what this means for the relationship between eye-tracking studies and natural reading. They make the point that as more and more researchers turn to eye-tracking technology, there is a need for published guidelines about what font size and font type to use and how to define regions of interest on the screen.

All in all, this special issue affords an opportunity to pause and evaluate how some applied linguists are utilizing this novel data-collection method. We hope that this volume will be viewed as an invitation to continue and expand this exciting new line of research. (531 words)

Applied linguistics and children with speech, language and communication needs: issues of teacher knowledge

Written by Elspeth McCartney and Sue Ellis

The text Sue Ellis and Elspeth McCartney (eds), 2011, Applied Linguistics and Primary School Teaching, Cambridge: CUP arose from a British Association of Applied Linguistics/Cambridge University Press multi-disciplinary seminar series including teachers, teacher-educators, speech and language pathologists/therapists, policy-makers and psychologists, with an added international perspective. The book considers how primary/elementary teachers’ linguistic knowledge might be framed, and examines what linguistic knowledge is most useful, how it is best introduced, and how it needs to be understood in the context of the complex and diverse modern school classroom. Two important issues arise in this context – linguistic diversity (see for example Hammond (Chapter Two), Horan and Hersi (Chapter Three), Tierney (Chapter Five) and Creese (Chapter Fourteen)) and the presence of children with additional needs for learning support in the mainstream classroom, as a result of global education policies promoting social inclusion.

This article is concerned with this latter group, and the relationship between teachers’ knowledge of language and children’s educational support. The particular focus is on children with speech, language and communication (SLC) difficulties, whose learning needs may by definition be clarified using linguistic analysis. This blog is about this large group of children: every primary classroom in the UK will have on average two or three children with some form of SLC needs (p.252, citing Lee 2008). Letts(Chapter Twenty) notes that many children with SLC also use English as an additional language, although that is not a causal factor in their developmental difficulties, and the complexities which arise.

Support for children with SLC difficulties is frequently offered at school, capitalising on the natural and ecologically valid language environment of the primary school classroom, and its extensive opportunities for social use of language. Support in the western world usually requires speech and language pathologist/therapist (SLT) and teacher co-operation. Teachers adapt the classroom to become a communication-friendly environment, tailor literacy activities to children’s abilities, and often undertake specific language-learning activities agreed with an SLT, thus fulfilling a school’s legal responsibility to educate children with additional support needs.

SLTs bring a good knowledge of clinical linguistics to such situations from their pre-service education, but teachers also benefit from some linguistic understanding if they are to communicate with SLTs and undertake intervention effectively. There is a need to consider what linguistic knowledge teachers need, and in what form, and how it should be acquired.

As introduction, Vance (Chapter Four) reviews the range of linguistic information that would be helpful to teachers educating children with SLC difficulties. She lists in particular the domains of speech and phonology; vocabulary; morphology and sentence structure, and aspects of language use. This is a wide range of linguistic knowledge, but Vance also reviews international research suggesting that teachers at present may have little such knowledge to apply, and are conscious of their lack of preparation for educating children with SLC difficulties.

Vance’s analysis suggests that teachers’ would find enhanced language knowledge useful in their role as educators, and would help teachers and SLTs communicate and discuss intervention options. However, Applied Linguistics and Primary School Teaching reports a variety of views by teacher-educators as to how this might be accomplished. These range from questioning whether there is any predictable relationship between teachers’ explicit linguistic knowledge and effective teaching, and so querying the need for linguistic knowledge; through including linguistic coursework in pre-service teacher education courses; to post-experience self-directed learning and development frameworks; to an approach where linguistic knowledge is provided by an SLT, tailored to an individual child and teacher, and offered along with relevant activities and materials ‘just in time’ for intervention.

Specific examples come from Dombey and Briggs (Chapter Fifteen) who cite older work by Medwellet al. (1998) concerning teachers proven to be effective in teaching literacy that suggested such teachers were little different from less effective teachers in terms of their explicit linguistic knowledge. Dombey and Briggs argue this does not provide evidence that linguistic knowledge is an essential component of good teaching, but they nevertheless outline a pre-service Knowledge about Language strand within a university degree which includes study of text structure, morphology and syntax, and segmental phonology, and which they believe offers student teachers confidence to talk about key features in text and children’s writing, and the opportunity to become better teachers of literacy. Student teachers apply their knowledge throughout to their own experiences of literacy, and to children’s writing and children’s literature.

Horan and Hersi (ChapterThree) also discuss pre-service linguistic coursework, and also stress it requires to be applied during student teachers’ placement experiences in diverse contexts in order to be useful.

Brooks(Chapter Sixteen)suggests that introducing pre-service teachers to selected International Phonetic Alphabet symbols would help them teach phonic aspects of literacy, and avoid confusion in languages such as English where phoneme-grapheme correspondences are not transparent.

Each of the above authors advocates pre-service linguistic education but stresses the need to provide relevant knowledge that is immediately applicable to primary teachers’ on-going work, so that it is used within and beyond training and becomes ‘owned’ by teachers. Brooks notes that linguistic information has not always been presented to teachers in such an applied and contextualised way.

Two sets of authors discuss approaches that present teachers with linguistic knowledge post-qualification. Hartshorne (Chapter Eighteen) describes the development of a Speech, Language and Communication Framework (SLCF) which allows individuals including teachers to assess their own understanding of typical speech, language and communication development and use, and to consider their resulting needs for further information and continued professional development.

The SLCF was designed with the needs of all children in mind, but with opportunities also to consider the needs of children with SLC difficulties. Ellis and McCartney (Chapter Nineteen) concentrate on children with specific language impairments, reporting a research-based approach where linguistic information on developing oral language skills is presented to teachers, along with specific language-learning activities for individual or small groups of children and appropriate materials, to be undertaken in the classroom. These two chapters consider oral language, and the need to analyse spoken as well as written texts.

The variation reported in the ways in which teachers are introduced to linguistics has implications for the amount, centrality and domains of their linguistic knowledge, and means there can currently be no certainty about what teachers know. Whether or not teachers attain useable applications of linguistic knowledge during their pre-service courses seems to be a critical variable. The points made by authors against decontextualised information and lack of application would apply to much professional learning, where knowledge has to be framed as applicable and ‘owned’ to be used. Where teachers achieve such a relationship with linguistics during their pre-service courses, application becomes part of their professional knowledge to be used in a wide variety of teaching and learning contexts to support all children as they learn to talk and listen, read and write, so empowering teachers to do their job.

Examples of linguistic approaches that apply to all children are given by Myhill (Chapter Six) regarding grammar and children’s writing; Sealey (Chapter Seven) regarding corpus linguistics; Smith (Chapter Eight) regarding story-book reading; Jajdelska (Chapter Nine) regarding the concept of narrator; Moss (Chapter Ten) regarding children’s constructions of being a reader; Nunes and Bryant (Chapter Eleven) regarding morphology; Rickets, Cocksey and Nation (Chapter Twelve) regarding reading comprehension, and Lefstein and Snell (Chapter Thirteen) regarding classroom dialogue. Apel, Wilson-Fowler and Masterson (Chapter Seventeen) give a particularly helpful example relating to spelling, where techniques used with all children are augmented for those with SLC difficulties, and where continuity is evident. Applying linguistics can help teachers to analyse child progress towards literacy and to identify appropriate learning and teaching points. And applying this sound grasp of linguistics to the needs of children with SLC difficulties becomes an extension of general teaching approaches, rather than a separate and novel approach.

Applied Linguistics and Primary School TeachingSLTs are often surprised at teachers’ lack of linguistic knowledge, given their responsibilities for developing classroom talk and literacy. Teachers, on the other hand, often report that the form in which applied linguistics knowledge is presented is not particularly helpful, a point that Greg Brooks illustrates in an anecdote about his personal experience on teacher training courses. This means that at present, SLTs cannot rely on a child’s class teacher having a common language with which to communicate, which introduces uncertainties and disconnections. Teachers using the SLCF framework are taking admirable personal responsibility for their professional growth, but this process may have to be short-cut to meet the immediate needs of children in their class. SLTs can empathise with teachers asked to work with children with SLC difficulties without preparation or development time, and can use a ‘just in time’ model to support learning. But this does place a large training responsibility on SLTs. It also tends to place teachers in an ‘assistant’ role, where they receive just enough knowledge to undertake communication development activities, but which fails to capitalise on teachers’ professional insights. Co-professional working would be considerably enhanced by linguistically fluent teachers.

In editing a book on applied linguistics and primary school teaching, it is unsurprising to assert the view that linguistics should be a proper part of a teacher’s professional knowledge.  However, this view might also be supported by consideration of the rights of children with SLC (and indeed the rights of all children) to be educated by linguistically informed teachers who can develop their language skills. Applied linguistics as a knowledge base and analysis tool has an opportunity to spread its influence widely into mainstream school education, to support teachers in the modern complex classroom and to support inclusive education. But there is a need for much further conversation about how this may be progressed.

Continue reading Applied linguistics and children with speech, language and communication needs: issues of teacher knowledge

2010 Language Teaching Christopher Brumfit Award winner Dr Susy Macqueen discusses her award winning dissertation

When we become highly proficient in a language, we tend to use it in chunks or patterns. For a native language especially, we learn and become adept at manipulating masses of word patterns such as absolutely not, as it were, in light of the fact that, curry favour, I think that, scattered showers, it’s worth –ing, just a sec, etc. Language patterns like these make communication efficient – we don’t need to spend time piecing together the smallest bits of language. Rather, we work with larger bits that are easily accessed in the memories of both the user and the receiver. However, the pervasiveness of patterning makes it quite a challenge to sound ‘natural’ in second languages. Grammatical rules themselves are patterns, but they are more broadly applicable. Beyond these general patterns, there are masses of idiosyncratic lexicogrammatical patterns that form the stuff of communication.  I set out to find out how second language users deal with the massive task of learning such patterns. In order to do this, I traced the development of chunks in the writing of four ESL users as they prepared for university study and later once they were in their university courses.

Second language users embark on a program of chunk-making and chunk-breaking. That is, they build up a stock of formulae and at the same time, they start learning how these can be applied and manipulated. One way the students in my study did this was through experimentation with patterns they had seen or heard. For some language learners, receiving teacher feedback can be an opportunity to experiment with chunks of language. If it doesn’t ‘work’, the teacher will provide feedback. The feedback process is therefore a safe place where students can take risks with language. This is significant for language teachers who may think that their students always aim to produce language they believe to be nativelike. In fact, students may be trying something they suspect is not nativelike, even if they know a nativelike alternative.

The language users in my study also actively sought to imitate the language of expert users. Imitation has a troubled history in the field of second language learning; it has behaviourist overtones and, in university contexts, it is haunted by the spectre of plagiarism. Imitation is, however, central to language learning. Chunks have to come from somewhere. It isn’t necessarily a mindless copying activity, however. The process revealed in the writing of these language users was one of adaptive imitation – ‘the purposeful detection and imitation of lexicogrammatical patterns which are adapted in order to participate in a discourse community’. Over time, it was possible to see how the learners gained increasing control over the discipline-specific language patterns that they gleaned from expert sources. Since lessons, language textbooks and teacher feedback can only provide a small sample of the number of patterns required to operate in a university context, it is arguable that most pattern learning occurs through this transformative process of imitation-for-learning.

Dr Susy Macqueen

Find out more -http://languages.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/profiles/macqueen.html

New Competition from the Applied Linguistics Zone

To correspond with the new featured topic of the Applied Linguistics Zone, ‘Speaking’, we are giving away a free copy of Examining Speaking. To enter, click on the competition link on our homepage. You can also:

  • Listen to an interview with Dr Evelina Galaczi where she discusses her background in assessing speaking and the main focus of Examining Speaking, a new title in the Studies in Language Testing series
  • Read a sample chapter from Examining Speaking
  • Follow links to free articles and book chapters

There are also new reading room materials with articles from Andy Kirkpatrick, Wayne Rimmer and Anne O’Keeffe, as well as book chapters from Lynne Cameron, and Do Coyle, Philip Hood and David Marsh.

Applied Linguistics Zone update

The new featured topic is English for Specific Academic Purposes.

  • Listen to extracts from an interview with Dr Marc Fiedler where he discusses the elements of academic life reflected in Cambridge English for Scientists
  • Read a sample chapter from Cambridge English for Scientists
  • Also includes links to articles by Hikomaro Sano and Alex Gilmore, as well as a chapter from English for Academic Purposes by R.R. Jordan.

There are also new Reading Room materials with articles from Guy Cook, Marie-Madeleine Kenning and Howard Hao-Jen Chen, as well as book chapters from Rose Senior, and Hanan Khalifa and Cyril Weir

Following on from the success of our previous competition, we are giving away 3 copies of Cambridge English for Scientists. Click here for details.

See the Applied Linguistics Zone page above for more information and free resources.

Only 1 week left to take part in our Applied Linguistics Zone competition!

Take part in our Applied Linguistics Zone competition for the chance to win 5 Cambridge University Press paperbacks of your choice.

Just click on the link below to see 6 questions relating to the different material available on the zone. The answers can be found by accessing the resources within the different reading rooms.

Fill in your answers, your name and email address to enter.

Click here to take part in the competition.

The winner will be selected at random from those who submit six correct answers. The closing date for entries is the 3rd of May 2011.

Good luck!

The Cambridge Applied Linguistics Team

Competition: Win 5 Cambridge University Press books of your choice!

Take part in our Applied Linguistics Zone competition for the chance to win 5 Cambridge University Press paperbacks of your choice.

Just click on the link below to see 6 questions relating to the different material available on the zone. The answers can be found by accessing the resources within the different reading rooms.

Fill in your answers, your name and email address to enter.

Click here to take part in the competition.

The winner will be selected at random from those who submit six correct answers. The closing date for entries is the 3rd of May 2011.

Good luck!

The Cambridge Applied Linguistics Team