Bilingualism in Children: Overview

Bilingualism can be viewed in two different ways. One way of viewing bilingualism is that it is a commendable trait for a person to have, that is alongside the thinking that it is a mark of high intellect. Another way of viewing bilingualism is that it is a negative upshot of Globalism, that it is a degradation of culture. It is undeniable that bilingualism is a prevalent topic in today’s society. Some even consider it as an essential trait for survival in the context of the modern world.

This notion of bilingualism is especially prevalent in the US, where immigrants should adopt a second language to be competitive in terms of employment. That is why children from immigrant families are advised by their parents to learn a second language early as early as possible. The problem bilingualism arises when parents fail to consider that children are still in the stage of mastering their first language. Acquiring two language simultaneously is would be difficult for anyone regardless of age. It is a common notion that the children would eventually learn the second language.

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That is alongside the thinking that, as the children are exposed more to the society speaking the second language, the children would naturally the language. Although, it is observable that children from immigrant families gradually become more and more comfortable with second language through time. But it is also observable that the process that the children have to go through is not an easy one. The difficulty of children’s acquisition of a second language is expressed by Eva Hoffman in her book “Lost in Translation.
” She had thrown in a very helpful query for this discussion: “…how does an individual bend toward another culture without stumbling over? ” (Hoffman 209) Hoffman’s semi-autobiographical book is about her struggle to acquire a second language when family had migrated from Poland to Vancouver. The bulk of the book is about her lost of her sense of place and belonging in her new society. But the fact that the acquisition of the second language would come as natural would not necessarily mean that the children would not be subjected to the consequences of being bilingual.
Another book that would be helpful to the discussion at hand is Natasha Lvovich’s “The Multilingual Self: An inquiry to language learning. ” In contrast to Hoffman’s work, Lvovich’s book had taken a more attention-grabbing approach. Lvovich’s work is about the struggles that her daughter had to face when they had moved to America. Although there are some minor differences between the two books, they are both talking the same topic of language acquisition. Both of the books had depicted how a child is subjected to consequences of being bilingual.
A common consequence of bilingualism as Lvovich had depicted through the story of her daughter “…she is going through a very difficult period of adjustment as a teenager growing into adulthood” (Lvovich 101) There was even a point in the book that Lvovich’s daughter became reluctant to speak their first language. Hoffman argued that a reluctance to speak the first language would result to the atrophy of the mother language of the child (Hoffman 98) Conclusion
For children of immigrant families to succeed in being multilingual, their parents should first do careful planning and learning about the nature of language acquisition. The parents should always keep in mind that childhood is already full of challenges as is. They should be aware of the consequence of being bilingual and they should also have at least an idea of how to counter them. Works Cited Hoffman, Eva. (1990). Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language. NY: Penguin Lvovich, N. (1997). The Multilingual Self: An inquiry into language learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

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