Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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EDITORS: Cristián Abelló Contesse, Christoph Ehlers, Lucía Quintana Hernández TITLE: Escenarios bilingües SUBTITLE: El contacto de lenguas en el individuo y la sociedad PUBLISHER: Peter Lang YEAR: 2010
Whitney Chappell, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University
''Escenarios bilingües'' is a collection of studies on bilingualism, divided into two main parts: Part I, ''Bilingüismo en el aula'' ('Bilingualism in the classroom'), includes papers examining bilingualism in institutional L2 settings, while Part II, ''Bilingüismo social e individual'' ('Social and individual bilingualism'), discusses languages in contact both in the mind and in society.
In their introduction, Abelló Contesse and Ehlers present and define the key concepts at play in bilingualism studies, some of which have been controversial since the work of Bloomfield (1935) and Haugen (1953). For example, 14 types of bilingualism are explained (e.g. functional bilingualism, incipient bilingualism, asymmetric bilingualism, and active vs. passive bilingualism, among others), and the different fields that focus on bilingualism are introduced, (e.g. SLA, bilingualism and multilingualism, and first language acquisition or second language acquisition), along with a discussion of their divergent aims. The authors then discuss terminological issues, raising questions about the appropriateness and accuracy of the terms used. For example, the authors present the terminology of the past (e.g. interference or negative transfer), and then provide the newer forms intended to eliminate the negative connotations associated with the previous terms (e.g. interlinguistic influence).
In addition to providing definitions and a discussion of terminology, the authors present challenging and controversial issues within bilingualism studies. Perhaps most crucially, the problematic concepts of the idealized monolingual native speaker and the bilingual speaker equally competent in both languages are analyzed, and the authors argue that many of the comparisons made between monolinguals and bilinguals in the present literature are unfair, as both the experiences and minds of the two groups are different.
The first part of the book consists of the following four chapters:
In Chapter 1, ''Educación lingüística, práctica educativa y organización escolar en Cataluña'' ('Linguistic education, educational practice and school organization in Catalonia'), by Ignasi Vila, the author describes the practices and policies of bilingual education in Catalonia throughout the past few decades. Impressive results in bilingual education have been achieved over the past 25 years, but Vila argues that the system is in need of a change based on the increasingly diverse demographics in Catalonia: approximately 12% of current students are of foreign origin and that number could surpass 20%. Vila argues in favor of instructors' individualized educational policy with the students' cooperation as well: instead of minimizing the linguistic diversity of the students, those who speak neither Spanish nor Catalan at home should be provided with more support and more opportunities to personally negotiate what is done and said in their curriculum.
Chapter 2, ''Nuevas tecnologías en el aula plurilingüe'' ('New technologies in the multilingual classroom'), by Marta González-Lloret, expounds upon the value of technology in the SLA, bilingual or multilingual classroom. Virtual environments and synthetic immersive environments, for example, allow the students to actively participate in a way that might otherwise be impossible, thus increasing student-centered collaboration and heightening students' motivation levels. Forums, bulletins, blogs, wikis, and webquests are fast, free, highly interactive and flexible for use in the classroom. Preparing students for technological literacy in an increasingly technological age, González-Lloret argues for collaborative, experiential and student-centered learning in the technological realm.
The third chapter, Marta Baralo and Sheila Estaire's, ''Tendencias metodológicas postcomunicativas'' ('Methodological postcommunicative tendencies'), has two major aims: firstly, to present the latest, or ''postcommunicative'', accomplishments within the field of second (or foreign) language studies, and secondly, to present and analyze new methodological models for use within the classroom. Emphasizing a communicative approach that focuses on functional competence in real, concrete interpersonal interactions, Baralo and Estaire explain the benefits of diversity across classrooms with varied goals, structures, methodologies and curricular designs, allowing for a great degree of flexibility and integration within the language-learning classroom. The authors call for teachers to reflect upon the many teaching tools available and the most effective educational contexts, based on the students' individual needs and motivations.
''El reto de la enseñanza bilingüe para el profesorado del nuevo milenio'' ('The challenge of bilingual education for the teachers of the new millennium'), by Sonia Casal Madinabeitia, (Chapter 4) addresses the teaching and learning processes for foreign language learners, stressing the importance of the instructor and the long-term impact teachers have on their pupils. Casal Madinabeitia argues that students should be active participants in the learning process, and teachers should always be aware of their influence, more specifically the emotional and volitional importance of their expectations over students. Instructors should provide warmth and moral support in the classroom, which can lead to greater student success in the learning environment.
The second part of the book features these chapters:
''La percepción del habla en el bebé de entorno bilingüe'' ('The baby's perception of speech in a bilingual environment'), by Ferran Pons, Bàrbara Albareda-Castellot and Nuria Sebastián-Gallés (Chapter 5), discusses preverbal infants growing up in bilingual households. In three main sections (language discrimination, the construction of phonetic categories and the recognition and learning of words) the authors present the latest experimental findings on monolingual and bilingual infants' perception of speech. The authors find that both in preverbal stages and early stages of language acquisition and separation of the two acquired L1s, there are as many similarities as differences. In spite of the differences (e.g. phonetic perception), overall, bilingual children show the same pattern of acquisition as monolingual children.
In Chapter 6, ''El bilingüismo familiar no convencional y el papel dependiente del enfoque UPUL'' ('Unconventional family bilingualism and the dependent role of the UPUL approach'), Christián Abelló Contesse examines a case study of 'una persona-una lengua' ('one person-one language') in his family over the course of eight years. While the parents share the same L1 (Spanish), the father has opted to use English, a second language, in daily interactions with the child, which is a trend that Abelló Contesse claims is gaining popularity in the formation of bilingual families. This chapter describes the seven personal variables' transformation throughout the course of the study (the child's age, attitude, metalinguistic awareness, knowledge and use of another L2 as well as the parents' choice of an interactive focus, linguistic ideologies, and strategic planning), concluding that while this particular case of UPUL was successful, positive attitudes, ideologies and planning were crucial to the child's linguistic progress.
Chapter 7, ''Características del bilingüismo español-árabe dariya en Ceuta'' ('Characteristics of Spanish-Arabic Darija bilingualism in Ceuta'), by Verónica Rivera Reyes, describes the characteristics of bilingual Spanish-Darija speakers in Ceuta on the Gibraltar Strait. Rivera focuses on the linguistic features of bilingual speakers in this multilingual setting and the types of bilingualism found in Ceuta. She also presents the results of a survey that suggest speakers' language attitudes and self-esteem, particularly the linguistic insecurity of many Darija-speaking Muslims about possessing both poor Arabic and poor Spanish skills, affect the bilingual situation in Ceuta.
Christoph Ehlers' ''Las influencias interlingüísticas ¿Creación o contaminación?'' ('Interlinguistic influences: Creation or contamination?') (Chapter 8) addresses the history of interlinguistic influence. Originally believed to be a ''bad habit'' that had to be eradicated from speech, a more realistic view of the negotiation between a previous and a new linguistic system as well as the acceptance of the L2 speaker as having previous knowledge at the time of foreign language learning has become the norm. On a theoretical note, Ehlers proposes that the human language faculty is not only responsible for linguistic evolution but also the interlanguage of L2 speakers, thus creating a bridge between the evolution of language over time and the acquisition of foreign languages.
The compilation of scholarly work in ''Escenarios bilingües'' paints a broad picture of bilingualism in the classroom, the individual and society by illustrating the variation and expansiveness of current bilingualism studies. With the insight of twelve different scholars, this book sheds light on the diverse and complicated pedagogical, societal and theoretical concerns at the forefront of current bilingualism research.
Abelló Contesse and Ehlers' introduction provides a much-needed prologue to the eight chapters that follow it. The thoroughness of their definitions and discussion of the many issues associated with the idealized concepts in bilingualism studies alert the reader to potential pitfalls and problematic theoretical notions before investigating the chapters on a case-by-case basis.
Part I (''Bilingüismo en el aula'') presents a coherent, cohesive view of bilingualism in the classroom. The chapters discuss ways to directly benefit the bilingual student, such as avant-garde teaching strategies and curricular suggestions, analyses of the successes and challenges of current bilingual education systems, and the crucial roles played by both the teacher and student in the bilingual classroom. These chapters work together to elucidate the current concerns of classroom bilingualism, approaching the same concept from different angles.
Part II (''Bilingüismo social e individual'') offers an interesting glimpse of bilingualism in the individual and the world, covering topics as diverse as bilingual development in babies and children, a bilingual community in Ceuta, and the theoretical implications of bilingualism. The goals of the second part of ''Escenarios bilingües'' are considerably more extensive, and consequently the fusion of the chapters is less cohesive than the first section of the book. This section's far-reaching aims could be viewed as both advantageous and disadvantageous: on the one hand, a much broader picture of bilingualism is painted for the reader, covering four important themes in four different chapters. On the other hand, the power of this section's breadth comes at the detriment of its depth, somewhat cursorily discussing the topics raised in each chapter. However, for a concise overview of some of the important areas of bilingualism studies and varied methodological and theoretical perspectives from experts within the field, this section provides a fascinating point of departure.
Overall, ''Escenarios bilingües'' fills a void in the Spanish linguistics literature by providing an account of the most up-to-date bilingualism studies that are both accessible to the reader and ambitious in their breadth. This edited volume serves as a valuable resource for researchers, teachers and students of bilingualism and foreign languages alike.
Bloomfield, Leonard. 1935. Language. London: Allen and Unwin.
Haugen, Einar. 1953. The Norwegian Language in America: A Study in Bilingual Behavior. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Whitney Chappell is a Graduate Fellow in Hispanic Linguistics at The Ohio
State University specializing in Spanish sociolinguistics and the
intonation-pragmatic interface. Scheduled to graduate with her PhD in 2013,
her current projects include a Sp_ToBI analysis of the relationship between
nuclear configurations and pragmatic meaning in the intonation of Granada,
Nicaragua and a language attitude study on the Miskitu Amerindians on the
Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras.