The Analybility Theory Of Bilingualism And Second Language Education

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In our widely globalized world and rapidly changing environment, knowing more than one language is extremely useful. Knowing a second language helps people worldwide to effectively communicate with each other and reach beyond one’s own cultural horizon. Impressively, there are more second-language speakers of English than there are native speakers, according to the historians of English language Richard Hogg and David Danison (423). An even more surprising fact is that there are as many bilingual children as there are monolingual children in the world (Genesee, Paradis, and Crago). The views on the phenomenon of bilingualism and on the necessity of teaching second languages in school have changed dramatically during the last century. There…show more content…
Fred Genesee, Dr. Johanne Paradis, and Dr. Martha Crago refer to this phenomenon as the “limited capacity theory” of bilingual acquisition. They and their advocates fear that learning more than one language could results in delays in language development, deviant behavior, and even incomplete maturing. These fears are interpreted by Genesee’s “unitary language system” hypothesis, which states that children’s brains are essentially monolingual so they treat two different languages as a single language (7). Bilingual code-switching by children is often taken as proof that they can not separate their two languages. There are other reasons why some people are against bilingual education. In her her book, Making Sense of Language: Reading in Culture and Communication, Susan Debra Blum explains the cultural background behind the fear of language diversity. According to Blum, the ideology of language assimilation is motivated by the view that “a common language is necessary for national unity and for economic productivity” (225). Some countries suppress foreign languages and minority languages. Those languages are stigmatized and “seen as problems to overcome rather than resources to be fostered” (Blum 225). Followers of these ideas fear that language diversity could lead to political disunity and potential violence, therefore, avoid teaching foreign…show more content…
Fred Genesee in his later works redacted his previous claims. For example, in his article, “Myths about Early Childhood Bilingualism”, Genesee shows that bilingual children achieve the same fundamental points in language development as monolingual children (12). He brings the examples of studies with French-English infants and a much larger study of seventy-three infants learning Spanish and English in Miami. The results of both studies conclude that the level of engagement in language activities does not differ among bilingual and monolingual children, and that bilingual children produce their first words at about the same age as monolingual children (7). Genesee comes to the conclusion that “... learning two languages simultaneously is no more challenging for the human neurocognitive system than learning one” (8). Beyond that, bilingualism is found to hold cognitive, educational, and health benefits. According to Ellen Bialystok and Fergus I.M. Craik, there are lifelong positive effects on some executive-control processes, such as ability to control attention, shift between tasks, and inhibit distraction. In their study children sort cards by either color (red, blue) or shape (circle, square). After switching from one dimension to another, children typically keep sorting the cards by the original dimension. However, bilinguals were more successful in switching to the second dimension

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