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What is Bilingualism? - hgunn.uk
The fundamental problem that exists in society is that many people posses a very instrumental, mechancial view of the learning process. There is a public perception that learning new languages is easy. Many people do not understand bilingualism.
They view learners as inanimate objects that can be filled with a diet of facts of skills. They view learning as instant fix 'Bostick' permanent process. They fail to understand how complex languages are and how difficult it is to live a new language. This arises because we are all high skilled in applying our native language.
This has been illustrated in the myths that certain Welsh language tutors have been positing (See Socpie).
The Bullock Report 1975, which investigated English language development was titled a "Langauge for life". In the English speaking world, where English is the majority language of the countries that people live in, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it will remain the native language. Even in Canada, where there is a proportion of citizens, who are fluent French speakers, only 35% of the population are bilingual.
Native language is a language we can use with ease and flow. The feature of native majority languages is that unless they are used, they will not not be retained. The level of native language fluency that children achieve at the end of their schooling will not necessarily be retained.
Monolingual adults language skills will reflect the circumstances that they are in. The brain is very plastic. Unless speakers are in higher education and challenging occupations they will not retain the language level they attained in their schooling . Many adults vocabularies diminish after they leave school and their literary skills. The Scottish referendum campaign was marketed at a 12 year old language level.
The Transience of Language
Gunn (2010) contended that in second language learning that when learners cease their formal learning of a new language, it will either improve or degrade, it will not remain the same. Experienced second language teachers know that learners will lose a great deal of the language they are learning over the holidays. Even, if learners learn and apply a new language, it ill not necessarily be retained.
Grosjean and Pring (2014) refers to balance of bilingualism changing through a persons life time, between languages they speak, and in the language skills speaking, listening, reading and writing. The balance of bilinguals language capabilities, their fluency, will reflect their usage of each language. Bilinguals will always tend to have a dominant language.
Many bilinguals are what is referred to as balanced bilinguals, people who possess an equal fluent language capability in the four language skills. speaking, listening, reading and writing. In practice one language will normally be the dominant fluent language, there can be variations in the fluency they possess in each language, the contexts they apply it in and in the four language skills. It is possible to speak a language, but not be literate in it.
Monolingual speakers must use their native language for everything that they do in their everyday lives. They will need to apply their four language skills. Bilinguals have a choice of language to use, because they cannot use both languages simultaenously in any utterance. The practical applied use of the language will dictate the development and retention of the skills they possess in both languages.
Learning is a process of cognitive growth. Language fluency is developed by extensive practice, producing and receiving it. It can only be sustained by excessive usage. This is no different to a concert pianist developing and retaining their musical skills. Applied language usage and encountering it will primarily be determined by how often speakers apply their language skills.
Languages rises above the meanings of the words. Fluent languages are shared between people like viruses. They need to be practically applied with other speakers to develop and keep them.
There is the myth that people in the United Kingdom are lazy about learning new languages, but the problem is because the U.K. is an ireland, there has never been the mixture of people speaking different language in it, as in continental0
Europe. The problem with languages like Welsh is that they are minority languages. The opportunity to use the language in Wales is limited. There are only 11% of fluent Welsh speakers in Wales.
The fundamental feature of fluent languages is that they applied applied so fluently that we often process it automatically. The reason why the 5p bags charge reduced plastic bag consumption in the United Kingdom, for instance, was not the charge, it was the fact people were taking the plastic bags without thinking about it.
Even now we are asked whether we want a bag, we will have heard the question thousands of times, so we will respond to it relatively automatically. This would not happen if we were asked the question in an unfamiliar language.
A lot of the
native language we apply in everyday life is applied automatically with minimal thought and effort. This reflects the fact a new language needs to be lived through, not just learnt.
Applied Bilingual Fluency
Ted Rose contends that all human attributes are jagged. The potential for children to learn and retain a new language will not be equal. The brain is very plastic. Adults language skills decline after they leave school. Their vocabularies will decrease, for instance, but this will depend on the occupations or interests they pursue in adult life.
Speaking a language is the fastest cognitive skill that the brain can apply.
The fundamental problem is that languages are not designed from a learning perspective. They have been shaped into irregularity over history to allow this.
Words sounds do not always correlate with their written form. Learning a new word in a unfamiliar language can only be learnt by rote, it is not different to learning new unfamiliar code or telephone number.
Learning factual information is insecure and transient. We are evolutionary designed to forget factual information. It requires extensive practice to develop it into fluent recall and to retain it in our long term memory.
Thousands of words need to be fluently learnt in any language. This is why it takes around 10,000 hours to develop native like fluency in a new language. This also why peoples vocabulary often declines in adulthood.
Bilingual speakers fluent capability will be jagged. It will reflect how intensively and securely each language has been learn and the opportunties. As with health, it is far easier to lose a fluent language capability, then recover it. It is much easier to lose expressive language skills, which require language construction, than receptive skills. This is reflected in the fact that there
are a proportion of Welsh speakers in Wales, who are struggling to use proper Welsh.
The fundamental charectoristic of all learning is that it cannot be divorced from the opportunity to apply what has been learnt in everyday life. Bilingual speakers, who have acquired their bilingualism from birth will have no clear notion of how difficult it is to learn a new language. We all learn our native language at such an early age that we do not remember how difficult it was to learn. This why learners can be deceived into believing a new language is easy.
There is developing evidence that the formative hard wiring roots of all languages are developed in the brain from birth to the age of three. The development of any language cannot be divorced from the opportunity to use it. The learning of any minority language will be difficult to learn because it is not all around learners.
The fundamental feature of a language is that it exist as an integral part of us. lt is the medium that we need to apply to live our everyday lives. If languages were easy to learn, then most people in the world would become bilingual. If language was a new invention, then it is probably be only one language, but there can be variations in language when they are spoken in different countries and regions.
The problem with the Welsh language is that it could be referred to as being more than one language. This makes it difficult for a novice to learn.
The concept of bllingualism, what it is, and how it is acquired is complex. It could be argued that very young children speak a different language to the native
adult speakers of their native language, which allows them to communicate with them.
Bilingualism is complex concept. It should not be strictly interpreted in meaning that speakers have equal capability in each language. Bilinguals use different language in specific contexts that reflects how Welsh has been traditionally spoken in Wales.
Grosjean and Ping – The Psycholingustics of Bingualism
As we will see, bilinguals use their languages for different purposes, in different domains of life, to accomplish different things, Their level of fluency in a language depends on their need for that language, Hence many bilinguals are more fluent in a given language, and some cannot read or write one of their languages.
George Yule – A Study of Language
In this form of bilingualism, a member of a minority group grows up in one linguistic community, primarily speaking one language, such as We1sh in Wales. Gaelic in Scotland or Spanish in the United States. But learns another language, such as English. in order to take part in the larger, dominant, linguistic community
Grosjean and Ping –
The Psycholingustics of Bingualism
Were one to ask a bxilingual which languages she uses in different domains of life friends, at work, for sport, when going out, one might obtain the kind of pattern that is shown, when a language is used in a very restricted number of domains, then there is every chance that it will be used less frequently and that it will have a lower fluency.
Since bilinguals are rarely equally fluent in all of their languages (recall that they use them for different purposes, in different domains of life, and with different people their linguistic knowledge they have of their languages will be different, and this will have an impact upon speech perception and comprehension.
Some, who live in bilingual communities where the two languages are used together extensively, may rarely find themselves at the monolinguals. Others, who are surrounded by monolinguals during their everyday activities, may never move to the bilingual endpoint and bring in the language in their interactions.