Reflection On Multiilingualism

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As an Early Years practitioner, it is vital to engage in reflective practice to enable me to improve and develop the way in which I work with children, colleagues and parents. In my role as a Family Support Worker, I encountered a situation that has helped me reflect, using Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (1988). During conversation with a Polish mother of a two year old boy (child A) I noticed that the mother is talking to her son in English. When asked why she does not communicate in her mother tongue, she explained that her husband is English and that is how they speak at home. After that she expressed her concerns about her son becoming bilingual as she believes that second language can affect the acquisition of English, leaving her son behind…show more content…
According to Steiner and Hayes (2009 p.3) bilingualism is “the ability to speak, read, write, or even understand more than one language’. Mackey (1962 p.22) defines bilingualism as ‘the alternate use of two or more languages by the same individual’ .Correspondingly, in Weinreich’s (1964 p.1) view, bilingualism is ‘the practice of alternately using two languages’. Pavlenko (2005 p.433) applies ‘the terms bilingualism and multilingualism interchangeably to refer to the use of two or more’. Following Beadsmore (1986 p.3) ‘the term bilingualism does not necessarily restrict itself to situations where only two languages are involved but is often used as a shorthand form to embrace cases of multi- or plurilingualism’. According to Bloomfield’s description bilinguals are people who acquired ‘native-control of two languages’ Bloomfield (1933 p.55-56) .In his view, people whose second language is not well developed yet are not perceived as bilinguals. As reported by Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams (2007 p.342) ‘bilingual language acquisition refers to the (more or less) simultaneous acquisition of two languages beginning in infancy (or before the age of three years)’. When an individual learns an additional language after acquiring the first, according to authors it is called second language acquisition not bilingualism. As shown above, bilingualism does…show more content…
According to Hoffman (1991) until the nineteenth century it was thought that bilingualism lead to mental delay, additionally, individual bilingualism was very frequently blamed for a bilingual child 's failing intelligence tests, underachievement at school or even having a negative effect on the child’s development causing left-handedness and stuttering. This perspective continued on to the twentieth century where a completely new perspective was introduced. Obler and Albert (1978) claimed that attainment of second language can be beneficial in increasing a child’s intellectual capabilities. They identified that part of the brain that is responsible for second language acquisition remains undeveloped in a brain of monolingual children. Proponents of bilingualism have also suggested that multilingual children are more skilful in articulating and expressing their feelings and ideas verbally in comparison to children who speak one language. In addition bilinguals obtain linguistic abstraction skills earlier and have better auditory memory skills than monolinguals (Dulay 1982). Similarly, Baker (2011 p.161) states that ‘Bilinguals have advantages on certain thinking dimensions, particularly in divergent thinking, creativity, early metalinguistic awareness and communicative sensitivity ‘. In addition, ‘the bilinguals appear to have a

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