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On 19 Nov, Mark J. Reed wrote:


> On 11/19/06, Benct Philip Jonsson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I wonder if there has been any
>> research on the difference between children learning a
>> language being immersed in a community, or only from a few
>> adults in an immigrant milieu?
>
> Only lots. :)  Most of it is driven by either (1) the desire to
> improve the language skills of children raised bilingually with
> limited exposure to the minority language, or (2) the desire to
> measure the impact of the above on majority language skills.  The
> results of the former which I've encountered are what one might
> expect: the more exposure the better,

    Don't I know it! (For those who don't know me or don't remember me, I am
a speech-language-pathologist, working in Israel.) I keep getting kids
referred to me in First Grade with the complaint of: "serious deficiency in
vocabulary" and "non-existent language use in any area". We're not talking
about unfortunates with brain damage or other problems. We're talking about
perfectly normal kids who were born and raised right here in Israel, and who
for their first 6
years have never heard or seen a single word of Hebrew, the language of
the society that surrounds them.
(Forget about what the parents speak --- with cable TV, they never have to
watch Hebrew-language programming; they have tons of books, newpapers,CDs,
DVDs, all of which are in their parents' L1, none of which are in Hebrew;
the neighborhood kids, though mostly bilingual,
will usually speak the kids' non-Hebrew L1 to them upon request, and so on
and so forth --- you get the idea!) And since they are native-born Israelis,
the Powers-That-Be assume that they all speak Hebrew and refuse to provide
them with classes for learning the lang!
    So they get referred to me for "speech therapy"! In fact, recently I saw
just such a kid --- but one whose exposure is even *less* due to the fact
that the school itself conducts classes in
the language spoken in the home! (But the kids are somehow expected to pick
up enough
Hebrew (from *where*???) to do the homework and pass the tests, all of which
are given in Hebrew! (Huh???) Somehow, most of the kids manage to do this,
(Double Huh???) except for
this kid who was having problems learning a lang with practically zero
exposure to it! So I got an offer I couldn't refuse and now I am attempting
to teach this kid Hebrew! ( I'm a therapist, Jim, not a miracle-worker!
;-) )


> but even one daily interlocutor
> is sufficient for the child to gain fluency in the language.  The most
> important thing is consistency.


    Reminds me of a family I knew here in Israel. The kid spoke 4 langs
fluently: French with his mother, English with his father, Hebrew with the
neighborhood kids and with guests (although with me, he obviously could have
spoken English), and Hungarian with his grandparents! That kid was very well
organized!

>
> In the second case, there have been conflicting results as to whether
> or not the minority language learning is harmful to progress in the
> majority language, but the consensus seems to be that it isn't.  It'd
> be nice if more professionals (educators, speech therapists, etc) were
> familiar with such research.


    I don't know about educators etc., but for American
speech-language-pathologists, at least, there should be no excuse! The main
professional association in the US is very interested in the problems of
therapy in situations where more than one lang is spoken and where English
is not the L1, and where more than one culture is involved. There is even a
division of the association devoted entirely to (as its name suggests)
"Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically
Diverse Populations". I receive their newsletter! (In fact, the latest issue
is sitting on my (real live wooden) desktop, staring at me and begging to be
read! But, of course, there are priorities in life: conlang first, *then*
professional literature!  ;-)   )



  At least in the US, it's very common for
> parents raising bilingual children to encounter resistance or
> hostility from professionals who are far too ready to lay any problems
> at the feet of the bilingual environment.


    Although I am the *last* person to discourage bi-(or multi-)lingualism,
(let alone "creative lingualism" ;-)  ), I have to add that I *have* seen
disastrous outcomes of parents trying to raise bilingual children ---
usually when they try to push too hard and attempt to ram it down the kids'
throats. (But then again, trying to ram *anything*  a kid doesn't want down
his/her throat can end up messy! Ever try to force-feed a baby mashed
vegetables? It ain't pretty! ;-)  )
    It's also true , though, that a bilingual kid who has not completely
separated out his langs can have cross-linguistic interference. For example,
putting adjectives before nouns in Hebrew (they generally come after the
noun) because his other lang puts them before nouns.
    IME, sometimes the bilingual environment is part of the problem;
sometimes it isn't. You just have to judge each case on its own merits.


Dan Sulani
------------------------------------------------
likehsna    rtem  zuv  tikuhnuh  auag  inuvuz  vaka'a.

A word is an awesome thing.