Bringing up baby bilingual

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					Bringing up baby bilingual
 Scientific perspectives on an eternal dilemma

                                     Bert Vaux
                      University of Cambridge
                              October 5, 2007
   Chinese couple on train speaking in broken
    English to their daughter
   California Proposition 227 (1998)
   Telugu and Polish nanny (Gopal)
   “why not”
       misconceptions → the
        current problem
   why & how
       case studies and recent
        scientific insights
                    Why not?
Common parental worries and problems
           Common misconceptions
     Common parental worries and
   parents only feel comfortable in the language they met in (Ernie)
   parents‟ pride in knowing English (Noure)
   parents wanting their kids to be “normal” (fluent speakers of (only) AmE)
       “immigrant parents, people who do not feel part of society, believe that if their
        child speaks Spanish they will either not be able to assimilate easily (difficulty
        with learning language/culture), or they will not be allowed to assimilate
        easily (actively excluded by others)”
       “I think that the only problem with bringing up my brother the way my mother
        did it is that it cut him off from many social contacts before he started school
        because he could not speak English”
   parents seeing E (but not their L1) as valuable socio-economic commodity
   working on L2 takes away time child could spend on math, etc.
   Henrik (German) and Donna (Chinese) speak English to their child because
    they don‟t know each other‟s language
     Common misconceptions
   exposure to n languages → 1/n proficiency (grammar, accent, literary
       “You get things mixed up sometimes because I feel like I don't have a grasp of
        one language fully, it's always halfway in between of each language”
   “if you don't have a really good teacher to teach you, you may not be good at
    the second language, because some people in Hong Kong, they just
    translate Chinese directly into English, so it's grammatically not correct”
   acquisition delay can lead to social problems
   children will conflate/confuse the two languages
       "My parents are Nigerian and they speak Igbo, but they wouldn't teach me
        because they thought I'd be confused"
       very few attested cases (Kirschbäumerisch, Lomavren…)
   stigmatisation
       “In Texas…there's a very large Spanish-speaking community…and because it's
        so large, it's very severely discriminated against…People hear you speaking
        Spanish…, they might discriminate against you.”
    Actual problems
   blocking of acquisition of L2 contrasts
       Best et al 1988, Pallier et al 1997
   vocabulary
       smaller? (Dutch-Turkish study)
       slower?
           slower picture naming in German and Swedish by young
            German immigrants vs native Swedish children in
            Sweden (Mägiste 1979)
           Possible reasons:
               More words activated in bilinguals
               Frequency effect from bilinguals using each language less
    Not actually so bad…
   Sometimes „confusion‟ results from acquisition
    problems indepent of bilingualism
       child learning English and French simultaneously avoided words
        containing fricatives in one language by using the word from the
        other language, e.g. couteau for knife (Celce-Murcia 1977)
   word relatedness judgements not affected by activation
    of L1 (Thierry and Wu 2007)
   picture naming facilitated by visually presented L2
    translation equivalent (e.g. DOG:perro; Costa and
    Caramazza 1999)
   word recognition in early fluent bilinguals is equivalent for
    L1 and L2 (Kotz 2001)
    Conclusions wrt “why not”
   confusion
       goes away
       can be circumvented via compartmentalisation
       children are extremely good at distinguishing languages and keeping
        them separate (Rodriguez-Fornells et al 2002); this “language switch”
        may be in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Hernandez et al 2001)
           Pettitto et al 2001
               capacity to differentiate two languages is in place prior to first words
   competition
       Though the other language is activated under certain conditions, this
        generally does not affect performance and in some cases enhances it.
   deficiency
       In vocabulary is far outweighed by the following advantages…
scientific and non-scientific reasons
    Some reasons
   Non-scientific reasons
       greater range of expression
       access to more than one culture
       employability
   Scientific reasons
       bilinguals better at filtering out distractions and switching between tasks
        (Diamond 2002)
       bilinguals learn to read faster, because they recognise symbolic relationships
        between letters and sounds earlier (Bialystok 1997)
       bilingual kids better at focusing attention and avoiding distractions (tower game)
       Bilinguals show superior executive processing
       anti-aging
       increased chance of maintaining lg after aphasia (for late/non-fluent bilinguals)
           Post-stroke patient understood 2 languages but could speak only one (Potzl 1983)
           Bilingual candidates for neurosurgery were found to have areas where cortical
            stimulation could interrupt naming in L1, L2, or both (Ojemann and Whitaker 1978)
   Start of school syndrome
       children start school, realise their peers speak a
        different language, come home and refuse to
        speak anything but that language
       Sticking to home language has been found to
        eventually overcome this, at least with 1st...
   Non-oldest child syndrome
       Some ways of dealing with this…
   Works well: natural environment
       one parent, one language
       one language at home, one outside
       both parents speak both languages
       nanny (source), peers (linguistic capital: summer, immersion school...)
           Samantha and nanny vs hispanophone friend
   Works less well
           Saturday school
           conventional language classes
   compartmentalisation (Beirut dog language)
   rich context (Döpke 1992)
       many speakers → better learning of category (Logan et al 1991)
       early interaction with live speakers
    Social interaction
   Kuhl et al 2003
       early in life, infants are capable of discerning differences
        among the phonetic units of all languages, including native-
        and foreign-language sounds. Between 6 and 12 mo of age,
        the ability to discriminate foreign-language phonetic units
        sharply declines.
       Can this decline in foreign-language phonetic perception be
                                  Cf. TV kids with
                                  deaf parents!

   Conclusion:
       Between 9 and 10 months of age, infants show phonetic
        learning from live, but not prerecorded, exposure to a foreign
        language, suggesting a learning process that does not
        require long-term listening and is enhanced by social
    Critical age I: grammar
   L1 Chinese, L1 Korean / L2 English
   46 participants
   Age of Arrival: 3-39
   Minimum residence in the US: 5 years
   Grammaticality Judgement Test for a range of grammatical properties
Critical age II: accent
   Yeni-Komshian et al. 2000
   study of native Korean speakers who came to
    US and learned English
       pronunciation of English:
           arrived 1-5: native-like
           6-23: accented
       pronunciation of Korean:
           1-7: accented
           12-23: native-like
       E vs. K:
           1-9 E better than K; 12-23 K better than E
   Ample evidence for beneficial effects of
    bilingualism; little evidence for harm
   Armenian saying:
       aynkhan lezu khides, aynkhan marth es
       „how many languages you know is how much of a man you are‟
   Bringing up a child to be bilingual is not as hard or
    as problematic as many people think
       ideal: early interaction with multiple speakers
       Survey of successful bilinguals suggests community,
        schooling less necessary
   Monolingualism is curable!
    Acquisition of L2 contrasts
   Pallier et al 1997
       Catalan /e/:/ε/; Spanish only /e/
       Catalan-Spanish bilinguals
           Sp = 20 bilinguals with Spanish-
            speaking parents
           Cat = 20 bilinguals with Catalan-
            speaking parents
       After exposure to Spanish leads to
        the formation of one [e] category, it
        appears to be difficult for the brain
        to learn two new phonetic
        categories which overlap with this
        one (see also Best et al. 1988)
    Smaller vocabulary?
   in a 1992 study of 11-year-old Turkish children,
    Anneli Schaufeli found that children who were
    bilingual in Turkish and Dutch fared significantly
    worse on vocabulary tests than children of similar
    socio-economic background who spoke only
   The bilingual children got an average of 44% of the
    test items correct, whereas the monolingual
    children on average were correct 75% of the time.
The Tower Game
   Bialystok 2002
   two towers, one made of (smaller) legos and
    one of (bigger) duplos
   each block holds one family
   which tower holds more families? (7-lego vs
   monolinguals master by 5; bilinguals by 4
    Thierry and Wu 2007

   Chinese–English bilinguals were required to decide
    whether English words presented in pairs were related
    in meaning or not
   they were unaware of the fact that half of the words
    concealed a character repetition when translated into
   Whereas the hidden factor failed to affect behavioral
    performance, it significantly modulated brain potentials
    in the expected direction, establishing that English
    words were automatically and unconsciously
    translated into Chinese
    Executive processing
   The Simon Effect
       Instruction: if red, press the L key; if green, press the R key
       Congruent trial: stimulus appears on the same display side
        as the correct response key
       Incongruent trial: the position conflicts with the correct
       incongruent trials trigger 20-30 ms longer response time
   Bilingual advantages in the Simon task have been
    reported for children (Martin & Bialystok, 2003), young
    adults (Bialystok, 2006), and middle-aged and older
    adults (Bialystok, Craik, Klein, & Viswanathan, 2004).
   For cognitive tasks, the increase in response time
    for subjects > 60 years old is more severe for
    monolinguals than for bilinguals (Bialystok et al.
    2004, 2006).
   Bilingualism boosts cognitive performance in
    adults and slows the rate of decline in these
    processes with age.