It has been claimed that children simultaneously acquiring two languages go through an initial stage when they are unable to differentiate between their two languages. Such claims have been based on the observation that at times virtually all bilingual children mix elements (e.g. lexical, morphological) from their two languages in the same utterance. That most, if not all, children acquiring two languages simultaneously mix linguistic elements in this way is widely documented. Although such code-mixing is not well understood or explained, there are a number of explanations unrelated to lack of language differentiation that may explain it. Moreover, while language differentiation is widely attested among bilingual children once functional categories emerge, usually during the third year, there is still some question as to how early in development differentiation is present. In this study, we examined language differentiation in five bilingual children prior to the emergence of functional categories (they ranged in age from 1;10 to 2;2 and in MLU from 1·23 to 2·08). They were observed with each parent separately and both together, on separate occasions. Our results indicate that while these children did code mix, they were clearly able to differentiate between their two languages. We also examine the possibility that the children's mixing is due to (a) their language dominance, and (b) their parents' rate of mixing. We could find no evidence that their mixing was due to parental input, but there was some evidence that language dominance played a role.
Recent research on pragmatic and syntactic development in bilingual 2-year-olds has shown that these children have differentiated language systems. However, it remains to be shown whether their grammars develop autonomously or interdependently from 2 years onward. The present study investigates the potential interference between the grammars of French-English bilingual children, aged 2–3 years. We examined their acquisition of functional categories, specifically the properties of INFL (finiteness and agreement) and negation, as these grammatical properties differ in both adult French and English and child French and English. Our results indicate that the bilingual children show no evidence of transfer, acceleration, or delay in acquisition, and support the hypothesis that their grammars are acquired autonomously. Some implications of these findings for the debate on continuity in the emergence of functional categories are discussed.
A number of studies have reported that there is a negative correlation between age of L2 acquisition and performance on a variety of measures of L2 ability, and that individuals who begin learning an L2 after approximately 15 years of age fail to attain native-like levels of competence. These results have been interpreted as support both for the hypothesis that there is a critical period for L2 acquisition and for the hypothesis that there is a maturational decline in access to Universal Grammar (UG). We argue that extant results are not an adequate test of the critical periods hypothesis because they are based on the performance of learners who have not necessarily achieved native-like proficiency in the L2. In this study, we develop criteria to establish whether an L2 speaker has achieved native-like proficiency. We compare the performance of three groups (near-native speakers of English, non-native speakers and controls) on two tasks designed to tap aspects of UG which have been claimed to be subject to critical period effects. We found no significant differences between our near-native group and native speakers on either of the tasks. We conclude that native-like competence in an L2 is achievable, even by older L2 learners.
It is commonly thought that children learning two languages simultaneously during infancy go through a stage when they cannot differentiate their two languages. Virtually all studies of infant bilingual development have found that bilingual children mix elements from their two languages. These results have been interpreted as evidence for a unitary, undifferentiated language system (the unitary language system hypothesis). The empirical basis for these claims is re-examined and it is argued that, contrary to most extant interpretations, bilingual children develop differentiated language systems from the beginning and are able to use their developing languages in contextually sensitive ways. A call for more serious attention to the possible role of parental input in the form of mixed utterances is made.
English-speaking children (N = 91) who were attending French schools (bilingual group) were given a battery of phonological awareness tests in kindergarten and in grade 1. At the time of kindergarten testing the mean age of the children was 5:9. Their performance was compared to age-matched English-speaking children (N = 72) attending English schools (monolingual group). The bilingual children showed heightened levels of phonological awareness skills in kindergarten in the area of onset-rime awareness. By grade 1, the pattern of group differences was more complex. The monolingual and bilingual children performed similarly on onset-rime segmentation tasks. The monolingual children had higher phoneme awareness scores than their French-schooled peers; this result is interpreted to reflect the role of literacy instruction on phoneme awareness development. In comparison, the bilingual children had higher syllable segmentation scores than their monolingual peers. This result is interpreted to reflect the role of second language input on phonological awareness.
In many communities around the world, competence in two, or more, languages is an issue of considerable personal, socio-cultural, economic, and political significance. For some, the issues surrounding bilingualism are viewed as "problems" to be overcome; for others, they are viewed as "challenges" that, once mastered, benefit the individual, the community, and even the nation in which they live. The need to know two or more languages is not new. Historical documents indicate that individuals and whole communities around the world have been compelled to learn other languages for centuries and they have done so for a variety of reasons -language contact, colonization, trade, education through a colonial language (e.g., Latin, Greek), and intermarriage (Lewis, 1977). Notwithstanding historical patterns, changes in the modern world are presenting new incentives for learning additional languages.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
334 Leonard St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Copyright © 2023 scite Inc. All rights reserved.
Made with 💙 for researchers
Part of the Research Solutions Family.