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. They view learners as inanimate objects that can be filled with a diet of facts of skills. They view learning as an instant fix 'Bostick' permanent process.

          Professor Susan Garthercole C.B.E., cognitive scientist, who has recently retired from Cambridge University of the brain, which investigates children's learning difficulties, stated in a Learnus Lecture to professional teachers that they knew more than about teaching than her. It is professional teachers who need to translate such research into practice.

        The other fundamental problem is that concepts like bilingualism are very complex. 

       The concept of teaching is extremely well researched and defined. We know how children and adults learn, but the emphasis in research is moving towards considering how what is taught is retained by learners. This reflects the fact that the brain is very plastic. 

          The old adage that if you do not use something you loose it is valid. It has been proved by cognitive scientists. The Cockcroft Report 1982 into mathematical learning establish this. 

         Whilst on the one hand the developing of two languages from birth does not cause Interference. There is a cost of being bilingual. There is no evidence of cognitive advantage in bilingualism despite bilinguals brains being different. 

        Although there will be common processes between the two languages of a bilingual, learners must learn a new vocabulary of thousands of words and grammar in each languages. Two languages cannot be learnt or applied simultaneously. Time is needed to grow language fluency in each language.

           Words are facts. Everything we do on planet earth relates to a process of cognitive growth.  Languages need to be constantly watered like plants in a desert through using encountering the language.  We all have active, words we can recall, and passive vocabularies, words we can recognise. In monolingual languages there is a constant drifting of words between the vocabularies and out of them.

       There are rarely balanced  bilinguals. The fluency, accuracy and the domains (contexts) that bilinguals are able to apply their language in will generally relate to usage. It will also relates to the four language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. It could be argued that no two bilinguals will have an identical mixture of all these factors.

          The learning issues involved in becoming bilingual are  not distinct from learning and modelling language. Children who learn through the medium of English for instance will loose to their school level of language attainment if they do not use. Bilinguals will generally have lower level cabbies in each other than a total language vocabulary that monolingual speakers have.

           Although it is often suggested that English speakers are too lazy to learn new languages, Research suggests that in countries like Japan where many people choose to speak English as a second language that there vocabularities are very limited.  Bilingualism bilinguals will be required to employ translation from their stronger language when they struggle to address languages in context they are not used to.

          It is possible for people to be receptive bilingual, which is easier to apply than language construction, which often was happens when people have formally learnt a language, but they will not used it sufficiently to keep a language.  It possible to be able process oral language and not literate, and vice versa.

Colin Miles - I Do not want to Learn Pigeon Welsh I.W.A.

Timothy Williams - When Teaching Welsh is Futile Experiment I.W.A.

Home Truth About the Welsh Langauage  Decline - Harris

Confessions of a Welsh Learner 14111