Vorobeva A.I. 1
Nowadays the issue of childhood bilingualism becomes more popular. Bilingualism has been researched by Russian (H.Z. Bagirokov, T.A. Bertagaev, G. Chirsheva, P.V. Korovushkin, G.M. Vishnevskaya) and foreign (C. Baker, J. Cummins, F. Grosjean, K. Hakuta, C. Myers-Scotton, S. Romaine) scientists. In the modern world the ability to speak two languages is rather usual, ordinary. Many countries, such as Belarus, Kyrgyztan, Kazakhstan, Finland, Sweden, and others have two or more official languages. In Ukraine, for example, most of the nation knows Russian as well as Ukranian. At the same time, migration is a big reason of bilingualism as well.
In the Oxford dictionary, bilingualism is considered as “fluency in or use of two languages” . U. Weinreich determines bilingualism as “the practice of alternately using two languages” [11, p.22]. A.A. Metluk gives such definition: “a term “bilingualism” is used in cases of individual ability to use two languages, and in cases of collective use of languages. Wherein, the ability to speak the second language can be different – from elementary up to advanced and fluent” [6, p.88]. According to G.N. Chirsheva, childhood bilingualism is child’s mastery in two languages in a way that requires success in communication according to his age features, in oral and/or written form, in one or several communicating spheres [1, p. 46].
Accordingly, a person with the ability to use two languages is called bilingual. F. Grosjean describes a bilingual person as someone who can function in each language according to given needs . Such person can fluently speak both languages and switch from one to another without a problem. Moreover, a child can be also bilingual by learning a spoken language and a sign language [5, p.5]. There are two kinds of bilingualism: natural, when a person learns two languages at the same time, and synthetic, when a person learns the second language after the first one.
In this article, we consider natural bilingualism. Natural bilingualism is an active and fluent ability to use two languages, open communication in both languages with switching of codes [7, p. 100]. It is a type of bilingualism, when the second language is assimilated, not learnt. Switching between two languages works automatically . Based on this, we can say that natural bilingualism is common in the families where both parents speak different languages (e.g. mother is Russian and father is American), or they live in a country where a national language differs from parents’ native one (e.g. a Russian family moved to Germany). According to linguists, natural bilingualism can exist when:
1) members of a child’s family speak different languages;
2) a family’s language and the society’s one are different;
3) a child is placed in a school or a kindergarten with a different language codes [7, p. 100].
Children in such families learn two languages from the very beginning, and both the languages are native and equal for them.
It is a common knowledge that bilingual children have more cognitive advantages than monolingual ones. Some scientists believe that such traits as creativity and problem solving among bilingual children are developed better than among monolingual ones. As well as these, bilinguals have better memory, more creative thinking, and greater sensitivity in communication.
To find out the age when learning two languages is the most effective we should know the specific of kids’ language acquisition.
According to psychological researches, we can say that:
From birth to 1 y.o. adaptation and listening comprehension takes place. In this period, a child should be acquainted with different sounds.
From 1 y.o. to 2 y.o. a child gains passive vocabulary. He learns words and phrases while listening. In this period, parents should read tales out loud and tell stories in a foreign language.
From 2 y.o. to 3 y.o. a child starts to understand the speech. He wants to start speaking as well.
From 3 y.o. to 4 y.o. the formation of speech takes place, so parents should talk to a child a lot.
From 5 y.o. to 6 y.o. a child uses the language independently.
For the biggest success in bilingual child development were created such principles as:
1) “one person – one language”. The essence of the method is simple: mother uses one language while father uses another one.
2) “one place – one language”. Usually one language is used at home, and the second one – outside.
3) “one situation – one language”. This method is similar to the second one and sometimes they both are mixed together. Using this method, parents usually choose certain situations when they switch languages.
4) “one time – one language”. This method is used for grown-up children. Parents choose certain time (hour, day of week, month, etc.) to switch the language.
As practice shows, the “one person – one language” principle is the most effective and popular. It was created by a French linguist Maurice Grammont. Besides, parents can use not only their native languages but also the other ones if they speak them fluently. The second mentioned method is mono-ethnic bilingualism. Mono-ethnical bilingualism is researched by many scientists, such as G.N. Chirsheva, D.A. Moshnikova, E.L. Totmianina, N.R Dimitrijevic, G. Saunders, J. Stefanik, K. Stephens. We agree with a Russian linguist P.V. Korovushkin that mono-ethnic bilingualism is a kind of child bilingualism that is formed by natives of one language and culture, yet one of parents chooses a non-native language to communicate with their children. [4, p. 109]. It has several specifics that differ mono-ethnical bilingualism and bi-ethnical one:
1) no bioculturality;
2) mono-ethnic socialization;
3) lack of psycho-linguistic, socio-linguistic, and pragma-linguistic characteristics in a non-native language [3, p. 145].
P.V. Korovushkin himself was brought up in a family, where his father used only English language to communicate with his son. The same method P.V. Korovushkin used with his son Misha. In his dissertation, P.V. Korovushkin describes bilingual children development from his own experience:
Example 1. Both boys under 2 y.o. chose easier to pronounce words: frog instead of lyagushka (engl.: frog), button instead of pugovitsa (engl.: button), such words as mashina (engl.: car), gruzovik (engl.: truck) and pchiela (engl.: bee) were replaced with car, truck and bee [5, p.13].
Based on this example we can say that kids at such age do not differentiate two languages. For such kids these words are synonyms, so they choose the easiest ones.
Example 2. When the boy was asked: “Where is your granny?”, he pointed out at his grandma as said: «Baba!» [5, p.18]. It denotes that the words «granny» and «baba» (engl.: granny) are equal for the kid though he’s chosen the Russian one.
Example 3. After 2 y.o. Misha started to make up mixed phrases, such as It’s a dieda (engl.: grandpa), papa (engl.: dad) sleep, dai (engl.: give)key, vot eto (engl.: such a) big car [5, p.20-21], and so on.
Such example shows us the ability of a child to make up simple sentences, yet we can see the mixture of words from two languages. Though with time bilingual people stop confusing words and grammar as growing up they start to realize their ability to speak two languages.
Until 2,5 y.o. Misha had a strong mutual exclusion strategy when he consciously did not want to use equivalents in the other language:
Example 4. When Misha was asked: “Say good-bye”, he replied: “Poka” (engl.: good-bye) in Russian [2, p.91]. Though he knew English word “good-bye”, he preferred the Russian equivalent.
Example 5. When his grandma poured jouice, he commented it: “Siok!” (engl.: juice). When grandma said: “Juice”, Misha replied, reassuring: “So-o-o-ok!” [2, p.92]. He knew both words, yet chose to name juice with only Russian word.
There is a big number of mono-ethnic bilinguals throughout the world. For example, a son of N.D. Dimitrievich Rayko learnt Serbian and English living in Yugoslavia. His father spoke English to his son, and though Serbian was dominant, the boy had learnt English quite well.
Andrea and Gram Facey, Australian English-speaking family, decided to both speak German with their children. They had spent two years in Germany, communicating with native speakers. Such experience helped them speak German fluently. Besides, their English was not worse than their only English-speaking peers’.
- Saunders, being a non-native German speaker and living in Australia, brought up three children communicating only German with them. Though the family didn’t have an opportunity to move to Germany or communicate with native speakers, the children spoke their second language fluently.
- Aidman, living in Russia, used English to communicate with her daughter. When they moved to Australia, they switched the method to “one place – one language” and spoke only Russian at home. As M. Aidman noticed, bilingualism helped the girl to improve written skills. Her notes and essays were more elaborated than her peers’ ones.
In our opinion, such experience trains memory of a child as well as eloquence, simply as such person has to remember double quantity of words than a monolingual person and be able to think and express different thoughts fluently in both languages. Such children show higher score in written and oral skills.
To conclude, we can say that nowadays childhood bilingualism is not something extraordinary. On the contrary, such phenomenon progresses due to big society mobility. Many families use “one person – one language” method as it is the most convenient and effective way to raise their bilingual children. Based on this information, we can make an assumption that in 10-15 years the number of bilingual kids will increase by 10%.
Библиографическая ссылкаВоробьева А.И. ЕСТЕСТВЕННЫЙ БИЛИНГВИЗМ ИЛИ ДВУЯЗЫЧНОЕ ВОСПИТАНИЕ ДЕТЕЙ В МОНОЭТНИЧЕСКОЙ СЕМЬЕ // European Student Scientific Journal. – 2018. – № 1.;
URL: http://sjes.esrae.ru/ru/article/view?id=422 (дата обращения: 21.01.2020).