The Effects of Bilingualism on Language Development

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The effects of bilingualism on language development in children are examined. Theories suggest that bilingual children are able to learn a second language after the first is mastered. One of the reasons behind this is that the child has already developed the nonverbal concept of the word (because the child is already using it in the primary language), so only the verbal concept must be constructed. It has been shown that balanced bilinguals are more cognitively and linguistically flexible. However, unbalanced bilinguals generally show mixed results.


Impact of Bilingualism

In California, bilingualism is a big issue. Most people in California are not bilingual, but there is a large minority that does speak a second language. Of those second languages, Spanish is by far the most widely spoken, mainly because of California's close proximity to Mexico. Bilingualism is a hot topic in California's political arena as well. The move to halt bilingual education is a prime example of this. Although a large portion of the population speaks a second language, such as Spanish, there are those who trumpet the benefits of monolingualism in schools. They cite the opinion that children will be confused in school and will not be able to differentiate between the two languages.

Theories of Adolescent Bilingualism

Cognitive Importance

The purpose of this paper is to explain the different effects that bilingualism affects cognitive processes, specifically language development. When talking about how bilingualism affects language development, we are speaking of cognitive implications. Bialystock and Hakuta (as cited in Seifert, Hoffnung, & Hoffnung, 1997) found that when children learn two languages equally well, ...

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...f print. Developmental psychology. 33 (3). 429-440.

Bialystock, E., & Hakuta, K. (1994). The science and psychology of second language acquisition. In K. Seifert, R.J. Hoffnung, & M. Hoffnung, Lifespan development. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Genesee, F., Nicoladis, E., & Paradis, J. (1995). Language development in early bilingual development. Journal of child language. 22. 611-631.

Gonzalez, V. (1995). A model of cognitive, cultural, and linguistic variables affecting bilingual Hispanic children's development of concepts and language. Hispanic journal of behavioral sciences. 16. (4). 396-421.

Pease-Alvarez, L. (1993). Moving in and out of bilingualism: Investigating native language maintenance and shift in Mexican-descent children. In K. Seifert, R.J. Hoffnung, & M. Hoffnung, Lifespan development. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.