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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|