Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: School-Age Children - Vol. 2

Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: School-Age Children - Vol. 2

Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: School-Age Children - Vol. 2

Second-Language Acquisition in Childhood: School-Age Children - Vol. 2

Excerpt

One of my children brought home from school the story of the mother mouse who saved her young from a ferocious cat by barking. "Bow, wow." After the cat ran away in terror, the mother mouse said to her offspring, "See children, it pays to know a second language."

Throughout human history, learning a second language has been an important part of the educational process. From ancient times to the present, school children have had to struggle to learn a second language (and in many cases third and fourth languages). To be educated meant to know a language other than the language of one's family and community. The contemporary American educational system is one of the few in recorded history that allows its products to remain monolingual.

Even in America, however, the issue of second-language learning in the schools has become a timely and much debated topic. Millions of children in America come to school with less than full proficiency in English. Some of these children are recent immigrants; others have lived in this country all their lives but grew up in non-English-speaking families and neighborhoods. Submersion in all- English classrooms has not proven effective for most children from minority- language backgrounds in America. But what is the best way to teach these children the language of the school and the larger society? This is an extremely important question, not just for the education of minority-language children in the United States, but for the educational and economic well-being of millions of children throughout the world.

In spite of the importance of second-language learning in school-age children, there are few books on this topic. The research literature appears in a wide variety of sometimes rather inaccessible journals. Investigators in the field come . . .

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