Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$34413

Still Needed:

$40587

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: linguistics in a multinational school
Question: I'm concerned with language acquisition for grades k-1. Is it better for the students to learn English in small groups or one on one. The research says either, but there are some who have no English and they speak their mother tongue at home. I guess I'm questioning the development phase - when CAN they learn to distinguish the words in contextual context? Please advise.

Reply: I'm sure our language acquisition specialists will chime in, but I would say the problem
is not what you think it is. Even at K-1, children are still young enough that the usual
child language acquisition mechanisms work if they are exposed to enough language
data, and usually more data is better.

I can tell you there is plenty of research as well as anecdotal evidence that a K-1 child
can learn a second language easily if placed in an immersive environment. That is, an
immigrant child to the U.S. can learn English if placed in an English classroom and a
U.S. child can learn Japanese if placed in a Japanese classroom.

I see that you are e-mailing from Ethiopia so I assume you are speaking from a context
where English is not necessarily used at the national level. In that case, I would look to
see how bilingual education works in countries like Canada.

I can also say that children often learn more from their peers than their parents (that's
why slang spreads so much). If some of your students are English native speakers, then
having your non-native students interact with the English speaking students will help.
Of course the English students will also be exposed to non-English, but most linguists
think that's OK!
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
 
Date: 09-Sep-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: linguistics in a multinational school    Susan D Fischer     (09-Sep-2013)
  2. Re: linguistics in a multinational school    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (10-Sep-2013)
  3. Re: linguistics in a multinational school    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (10-Sep-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions