Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: Preschool Children - Vol. 1

By Barry McLaughlin | Go to book overview

1 Bilingualism in Society

INTRODUCTION

For most societies of the world, linguistic diversity is the norm--not the exception. Bilingualism is present in practically every country of the world, at all levels of society and in all age groups ( Grosjean, 1982). This is sometimes difficult for Americans to appreciate. We have become accustomed to the notion that the world is becoming more homogeneous, that there is a linguistic convergence, with English gradually becoming the universal language. It is no doubt true that English is used widely as a medium of communication in scientific and technical domains, but this does not mean that English is replacing indigenous languages. If anything, the spread of English as a universal technical language is one reason why an increasing number of people in the world are bi- or multilingual. English (or French or Russian) may be learned as an international language, but national and ethnic languages are maintained in communicating with one's countrymen.

A similar phenomenon seems to occur on the national level. It often happens that central governments attempt to enforce national homogeneity by the imposition of a standard national language. The result is usually an increase in bilingualism, with large segments of the population speaking both the standard tongue and the local language or dialect. When the government attempts to do away with local languages and dialects, it meets with resistance and an upsurge of ethnic feelings on the part of the people affected.

Even in the United States, there is resistance to the imposition of a single standard language. Various ethnic groups strive to maintain their identity

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Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: Preschool Children - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Child Psychology ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Bilingualism in Society 1
  • 2 - First-Language Acquisition 12
  • 3 - Language Learning in Childhood and Adulthood 45
  • 4 - Simultaneous Acquisition of Two Languages in Childhood 72
  • 5 - Successive Acquisition of Two Languages in Childhood 101
  • 6 - Individual Differences and Language Learning Strategies 136
  • 7 - The Effects of Early Bilingualism 177
  • 8 - Conclusion 215
  • References 233
  • Author Index 253
  • Subject Index 259
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