Blog on fostering mental health in the Indian school system. It explores behavioral symptoms, and provides practical suggestions on strategies and instructional adaptations in the classroom. Topics covered include side effects of medication and their impact in the classoom, advocacy skills and locating therapeutic resources to help the student(s).
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Friday, October 5, 2012
Insight into Bilingualism Continued...
Children who grow up in a native English speaking
environment acquire this initial knowledge in English. Children who have
learned their fundamental concepts in their native tongue only (up to the age
of three) have to make new connections. They have to link the word Ball
in English to the word in their native tongue. Their prior knowledge is in a different language. Next comes the shape, the function,
the color, the size...this process takes time.
In some families, children are exposed to two languages right
from the beginning. This child develops skills in both the languages simultaneously.A child exposed to English after the mother
tongue is established will need more time to develop conversational fluency in
English (or any other second language). It takes about 3-4 years to develop
conversational fluency and 8-11 years to develop academic fluency (which
involves abstract language).
One of my friends, a speech language pathologist herself
used to try to say the names of the Indians in our circle. Sharad became Sharat,
Shruti became Shrewdi…my name didn’t sound anything like what it is, of course:)
That is one aspect of learning a second language
at a young age. Accent/pronunciation is closer to a native speaker’s if a child
learns the language by six years of age. That is why we have our varied
regional accents…isskool (school), aayil (oil), ij (is). We transpose the grammatical/phonological
processes of our native tongues to the second language. It is harder to correct
these at an older age. While this may not be a big deal in a place like India
(where we have so many variations for the same word thanks to our regional
accents), it may be a problem if you live in a country where the native
language is English. Your child will probably be referred to a speech therapist
for articulation and reading errors.
Earlier, it was
considered that there was a critical period for second language exposure—the child acquires a second language faster or easier at a younger age. This is now shown
to be not true…one of the reasons given is that older children have greater
cognitive learning skills and so they learn better.