Bilingualism
In today’s global society, the ability to speak
more than one language is a valuable asset.
Americans fluent in languages other than
English enhance our economic competitiveness
abroad, improve global communication, help to
maintain our political and security interests, and
promote tolerance and intercultural awareness.
(Pratt, 2002; Sollors, 2002 in Working Together to
Build a Multilingual Society: brochure prepared by
the Center for Applied Linguistics).
• Research has found a positive link between
proficiency in more than one language and
cognitive and academic skills (Armstrong & Rogers,
1997; Bialystock & Hakuta, 1994: Cummins, 1992;
Hakuta, 1986). Some studies indicate that
individuals who learn a second language are more
creative and better at solving complex problems
than those who do not (Bamford & Mizokawa, 1991;
Cummins, 1992).
• Standardized test results show that students who
have focused on foreign language studies routinely
achieve among the highest scores in all subjects
tested (The SAT College Board, 2002).
Definition of the term:
• The state of a linguistic community in which
two languages are in contact with the result
that two codes can be used in the same
interaction (Hamers and Blanc, 2000)
• The native-like control of two languages
(Bloomfield, 1935)
• The ability to use more than one language
(Mackey, 1962)
• The individual’s capacity to speak a second
language while following the concepts and
structures of that language rather than
paraphrasing his or her mother tongue (Titone,
1972)
Other terms associated to
bilingualism:
• Submersion: the situation encountered by
some children wherein they must make a
home-school language switch, while others
can already function in the school language
(Cummins, 1986)
• Immersion: situation in which children from the
same linguistic and cultural background who
have had no prior contact with the school
language are put together in a classroom
setting in which the second language is used
as the medium of instruction (Cummins, 1986)
As given by The Washington Post:
Total Immersion: For the first few years,
preferably starting in kindergarten,
students learn all subjects in the nonEnglish language. They might have a
small amount of additional English
development as well. By about third
grade, the program transitions, and
students learn about half of their
lessons in English and the other half in
the partner language.
• Partial Immersion: Starting from the first
year, students cover about half of the
curriculum in English and half in
another language. As is the case with
total immersion, lessons are not
repeated in both languages, but
material in a unit can be taught in
either.
• Two-Way Immersion: This typically
describes the demographics of a class
in which about half of the students are
native English speakers and half are
native speakers of the partner
language. Two-way programs can be
total or partial.
Characteristics of immersion
education:
• Additive bilingualism with sustained and enriched
instruction through the minority language and the
majority language is promoted
• Subject area instruction through the minority language
occurs for at least 50% of the school day during the
elementary school years
• Teachers are fully proficient in the language(s) they use
for instruction
• Support for the majority language is strong and present
in the community at large
• Clear and sustained separation of languages during
instructional time
(CARLA: The Center for Advanced Research In
Language Acquisition)
What we do at East Elementary
Our population:
• English and Spanish native speakers.
The language of instruction:
Kindergarten: Spanish (90%), English (10%)
1st grade -5th grade: Spanish (50%), English
(50%)
• We follow the principles of immersion
education to provide the same academic
content that is provided in a regular English
program.
• In kindergarten, the subject area instruction is
provided in Spanish by a proficient speaker of
the language (a native speaker). The students
receive 10 % of the instruction in English during
their enhancements: music, PE, technology,
among others.
• In the grades 1st through 5th the instruction
occurs in Spanish and English alternatively.
100% of the instruction is given in Spanish on a
day A, and 100% of the instruction is given in
English on a day B, by native speakers in both
cases.
What are the most important things for parents or early childhood
educators to know about early childhood bilingualism?
There are number of important things to keep in mind:
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Bilingual acquisition is a common and normal childhood experience
All children are capable of learning two languages in childhood
Knowing the language of one's parents is an important and essential
component of children's cultural identity and sense of belonging
Bilingual acquisition is facilitated if children have sustained, rich, and
varied experiences in both languages
Proficiency in both languages is more likely if children have sustained
exposure in the home to the language that is used less extensively in
the community; the language that is used more widely will get
support outside the home
Parents can facilitate bilingual proficiency by using the language
they know best and by using it in varied and extensive ways
Genesee, 2001
Interesting facts:
• The Spanish-speaking population is the fastest
growing language group in the United States. In
2007, 45.5 million Latinos lived in this country,
constituting 15.1% of the U.S. population (U.S.
Census Bureau, 2008) CAL
• Over 32 million people in the United States speak
Spanish at home (Pew Hispanic Center, 2006; U.S.
Census Bureau, 2005). Hispanics/Latinos
accounted for 49% of the country’s growth from
2004 to 2005; 70% of that growth is in children
younger than five (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). In
Los Angeles, nearly 40% of residents older than 5
speak Spanish at home. CAL
• The number of Spanish language radio
stations, television programs, and
newspapers has grown significantly,
with over 600 Spanish radio stations
and 500 Spanish language
newspapers. (CAL)
• The Center for Applied Linguistics
keeps a database of programs in the
United States that includes 310 foreign
language immersion programs in 263
schools across 33 states and 83 school
districts.
• In 2010, there were 50.5 million Hispanics
in the United States,
composing 16
percent of the total population. Between
2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population
grew by 43 percent—rising from 35.3
million in 2000, when this group made up
13 percent of the total population.
• The Hispanic population increased by
15.2
million between 2000 and 2010,
accounting for over half of the 27.3
million increase in the total population of
the United States.
“Nearly every sector of our increasingly
global economy and culturally diverse
workforce needs multilingual,
cross-culturally aware workers.”
Maria Carreira & Regla Armengol,
Heritage Languages in America:
Preserving a National Resource
Bibliography
http://www.cal.org/sns/
http://www.carla.umn.edu/immersion/faqs.html
http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf
Carreira, M., & Armengol, R. (2001). Professional opportunities
for heritage language speakers in Working Together to Build a
Multilingual Society-brochure by the Center for Applied
Linguistics
• Genesee, Fred. Bilingual Acquisition (2001)
http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_
view.aspx?ArticleID=38
• Hamers, Josiane F. & Blanc, Michel H. A. Bilinguality and
Bilingualism (2000) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Pratt, M.L. (2002). What’s foreign and what’s familiar? in
Working Together to Build a Multilingual Society-brochure by
the Center for Applied Linguistics.
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Bilingualism - Schoolwires