Childhood Bilingualism: Aspects of Linguistic, Cognitive, and Social Development

By Peter Homel; Michael Palij et al. | Go to book overview

12 1
A Social-Cognitive Persective on Bilingualism: Comments on Lambert and Taylor

E. Tory Higgins New York University

It is a pleasure for me to be discussant on these two chapters because I was born in Montreal, was an undergraduate at McGill, and, most of all, because the first social psychology course I ever took was with W. E. Lambert. That course was a major influence on my interest in social psychology and, more generally, on my interest in the relation among language, thought and society. So it is fun for me to be involved in discussing these chapters. Also, it is fun because of the impact of the work of both Lambert and Don Taylor on second-language learning -- after all, how many people have done such important research that they name whole regions after them, as in Wally's case with St. Lambert?

In my comments I talk about two issues -- motivational factors in the acquisition of a second language and the consequences of bilingualism -- and make some general comments about each of them, relating to what has been said so far and to some ideas of my own.

First, with respect to motivational factors in the acquisition of a second language, Lambert and Taylor have certainly done the pioneering work in this area, along with their colleagues. What interests me is the consideration of this issue in terms of a model that I have been developing that derives from many areas of social science -- pragmatics, anthropology, sociolinguistics, speech and communication, and so on. It is a model of communication that I refer to as the "communication game," which is simply a steal from Wittgenstein's "language game," who was one of the first to talk in these terms. One important aspect of

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This paper is a transcript (with some minor modifications) of the author's discussion during the conference of the papers presented by Lambert and Taylor, with some of Lambert's remarks on the author's comments being included as well.

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