Case Study on Being Bilingual in America

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Case Study on Being Bilingual in America The participant was my daughter, Amy. As soon as she arrived in Hawaii, USA, from Mainland China in July 1998, I began observing how she reacted to the new environment and how she adjusted to it. Over a five-month period (July-November, 1998) I kept a journal of what she did (about 35,000 words either in English or in Chinese), sometimes on the spot and sometimes upon recollection, and tape-recorded the conversations between us on three tapes. Amy was 12 when she came to Hawaii. She had finished fifth grade with a limited English vocabulary, which included pronouns, names of the seven days of a week, and the four seasons, etc. She had some idea of “be+noun/ adjective,” and the simple present and simple past tenses. But they had never become automatic in her linguistic production. When the study began, she just registered as a sixth grader in a local public school in Honolulu. Since it was the first time she had ever been abroad, I witnessed how she was excited by the new environment, shocked by the new culture, and struggled to learn the new language. I also noticed how her first language (Chinese) and second language (English) interacted with and promoted each other in her daily life and academic study. Some daily happenings and utterances between us were related to purposeful language practice and some were simply every day occurrences in natural settings of transition to a new culture… The second day after Amy got to Honolulu, we went shopping in a supermarket. Curious about the names and products on the shelves, she asked me a lot of questions in Chinese in a somewhat childish loud voice that drew some glances from other customers. I asked her to be quiet and she didn’t ask any ... ... middle of paper ... ...gual families. In F. Genesee (Ed.), Educating second language children: The whole child, the whole curriculum, the whole community (pp.61- 81). New York: Cambridge University Press. Hudelson, S. (1994). Literacy development of second language children. In F. Genesee (Ed.), Educating second language children (pp.129-158). New York: Cambridge University Press. Met, M. (1994). Teaching content through a second language. In F. Genesee (Ed.), Educating second language children (pp. 159-182). New York: Cambridge University Press. Toman, W. (1993). Family constellation. New York: Springer Publishing Company. Thomas, W. P., & Collier, V. (1997). School effectiveness for language minority students. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education. Verhoeven, L. (1987). Ethnic minority children acquiring literacy. Providence: Foris Publications USA Inc.
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