Multilingualism, Learning language

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Summary

Multilingualism is the use of two or more languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers. Multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world's population. Multilingualism is becoming a social phenomenon governed by the needs of globalization and cultural openness. Owing to the ease of access to information facilitated by the Internet, individuals' exposure to multiple languages is becoming increasingly frequent thereby promoting a need to acquire additional languages.

Details

One view is that of the linguist Noam Chomsky in what he calls the human language acquisition device—a mechanism which enables an individual to recreate correctly the rules (grammar) and certain other characteristics of language used by speakers around the learner.Santrock, John W. (2008). Bilingualism and Second-Language Learning. A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development (4th ed.) (pp. 330–335). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. This device, according to Chomsky, wears out over time, and is not normally available by puberty, which he uses to explain the poor results some adolescents and adults have when learning aspects of a second language (L2).

If language learning is a cognitive process, rather than a language acquisition device, as the school led by Stephen Krashen suggests, there would only be relative, not categorical, differences between the two types of language learning.

Rod Ellis quotes research finding that the earlier children learn a second language, the better off they are, in terms of pronunciation. See Critical period hypothesis. European schools generally offer secondary language classes for their students early on, due to the interconnectedness with neighbour countries with different languages. Most European students now study at least two foreign languages, a process strongly encouraged by the European Union.

Based on the research in Ann Fathman’s The Relationship between age and second language productive ability,Fathman, Ann. The Relationship between age and second language productive ability. 27 October 2006 there is a difference in the rate of learning of English morphology, syntax and phonology based upon differences in age, but that the order of acquisition in second language learning does not change with age.

In second language class, students will commonly face the difficulties on thinking in the target language because they are influenced by their native language and culture patterns. Robert B. Kaplan thinks that in second language classes, the foreign-student paper is out of focus because the foreign student is employing rhetoric and a sequence of thought which violate the expectations of the native reader.Kaplan, Robert B. "Cultural thought patterns in inter-cultural education language learning. 16.1-2(2006). 1-20. Wiley Online Library. Web. 9 November 2010. Foreign students who have mastered syntactic structures have still demonstrated inability to compose adequate themes, term papers, theses, and dissertations. Robert B. Kaplan describes two key words that affect people when they learn a second language. Logic in the popular, rather than the logician's sense of the word, which is the basis of rhetoric, is evolved out of a culture; it is not universal. Rhetoric, then, is not universal either, but varies, from culture to culture and even from time to time within a given culture.Kaplan,Robert B.CULTURAL THOUGHT PATTERNS IN INTER-CULTURAL EDUCATION language learning.16.1-2(2006).1-20.Wiley Online Library. Web. 9 Nov 2010. Language teachers know how to predict the differences between pronunciations or constructions in different languages, but they might be less clear about the differences between rhetoric, that is, in the way they use language to accomplish various purposes, particularly in writing.Gadda, George. Writing and Language Socialization Across Cultures: Some Implications for the classroom. Addison Wesley LongMan. Print.

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External Links

  • WikipediaESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice

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