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

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

ple, the belief that English language and basic skill deficiencies preclude thinking and scientific reasoning has led to programs for the language minorities that, by default, emphasize rote skills at the expense of higher order intellectual processes. Thus, although students are provided with the opportunity for success by placement in special classes, presumed deficiencies, ironically, preclude access.

The social sciences have identified a wide variety of student characteristics thought to contribute to academic success. What we have found is that the wholesale application of many of these findings is fraught with danger. Of particular importance to this discussion is the relation between social status variables operating both within and without the school setting and the extent to which differences (often more presumed than real) on these variables lead to differences in the design of programs which, in turn, preempt particular important process in learning. The case of student interaction is a prime example. What the previous findings have illustrated is that student interaction is a significant contributor to the learning process, particularly as related to concept formation. Interaction within the classroom, however, is to some extent modified by social status factors. To the extent that English language proficiency operates like other academic status variables, such as reading, it can be expected from these data that students with limited proficiency will exhibit lower levels of interaction with English-speaking classmates. Finally, what these data have shown is that under classroom organizational conditions where language minority students are provided with access to multiple resources, including home language, peer consultation, observation, manipulation, and so on, they will acquire concepts as readily as mainstream students and, at the same time, acquire English language proficiency and basic skills. In fact, what the data show is that the "bilinguals" are at a head start in this regard.


REFERENCES

Anthony, B., Cohen, E. G., Hanson, S. G., Intili, J. K., Mata, S., Parchment, C., Stevenson, B., & Stone, N. ( 1981, April). "The measurement of implementation: A problem of conceptualization". Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Session 40.11.

Aries, B. ( 1982, March). Contextual variation and the implementation of the bilingual curriculum. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York.

Berliner, D., & Rosenshine, B. ( 1976). "The acquisition of knowledge in the classroom". in R. C. Anderson , R. J. Spiro, & W. E. Montague (Eds.), Schooling and the education process (pp. 375-398). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bourne, L. E. ( 1966). Human conceptual learning. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Bruner, J. S., Olver, R. R., & Greenfield, P. M. ( 1966). Studies in cognitive growth: A collaboration of the Center for Cognitive Studies. New York: Wiley.

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