First language acquisition

Natalie S. Nilssen & Julie A. Brandsnes, Sept./Oct. 2011

Bilingual language acquisition

We devide between two types of bilingualism. Sequential and simultaneous.

When a child learns two different languages from their date of birth, it is a form of bilingualism which is called simultaneous bilingualism. The learning prosess of both the languages needs to take place before the age of two, and until the final learning stage is reached. This in order for it to be called simultaneous bilingualism. Both languages are considered as first languages. At least according to Annick De Houwer.

A common misunderstanding when we are talking about bilingualism is the idea that bilingular children will have «language handicaps» in comparison to monolingual children. The early research from the beginnning of the last century that prooved the connection between bilingualism and a lower intelligence level, contained several flaws. The children in the different language groups also came from different social classes. The bilingular children in this research often came from immigrant families who were less educated. This is in strong contrast to recent research. Now, linguistic researchers have found evidence supporting the opposite allegation. Simultaneous bilinguals have an advantege over the one native language-speaking, in many linguistic areas. Whether to believe in this or not is up to each individual. A lot of professionals in psychology are still in belief that bilingualism may be damaging for the cognitive development of children. Coming from authority persons, many bilingular families have chosen to start speaking one language only, fearing that their children could be harmed linguisticly.

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More than half of the worlds population has two native languages. This is common all over the world, here in Norway as well. Among the Sami people, for instance. In addition to their own language, they have had to learn norwegian as well. In the US there is in fact over 300 spoken languages. Children with parents with different native languages, or who have a family with origin from a different country, often learn both of the languages in an early age. The most common bilingual composition in America is English and Spanish. Some of the childres speak Spanish ...

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