Curioso artículo, enviado por Marta Herrero, del centro de Boadilla, que nos desmiente algunas de las creencias que tenemos sobre niños criados en un ambiente bilingüe.
In some families, children become bilingual. When a child interacts with one or more caretakers in a language on a regular basis, he or she learns to use that language. The key to learning languages in the home—whether one, two, or even more—is interaction. Interaction involves speaking and listening. In many intercultural families, however, children do not become bilingual. Simply being exposed to a language is not sufficient for a child to learn the language. Becoming bilingual requires that children use more than one language, and then continue to use them as they grow older. Here are a few myths that people believe about children and bilingualism. Families who intend to raise their children to be bilingual will benefit by learning what research shows:
Myth 1:“As long as my child hears us speaking our language, he will learn it”
Hearing a language will do nothing for the child’s speaking skills, and little to help him understand a language if he isn’t required to respond by speaking in the language. For a child to be bilingual, he or she needs very frequent practice hearing and speaking a language.
Myth 2:“Once my child has learned a language, he or she will never forget it”.
Children often lose languages they do not continue to practice. This happens all the time. To be bilingual for life, be sure your children continue to practice their languages either with you, playmates, other family members, or in close and frequent social circles.
Myth 3:“My child can speak two languages with me. We’ll just switch when we want”.
In most cases, children eventually speak one language with each parent and feel uncomfortable deviating from that language but there are exceptions. A child may naturally grow up speaking one language with the mother and a different language with the father. When a parent speaks more than one native language, a child can learn both provided he or she gets sufficient interaction in each. Genuine interaction is a more effective way to help children practice a language than randomly switching between languages.
Myth 4: “Since my children are learning two languages early on, they will have native accents in each language”
Children who grow up speaking one language in the home and another in the community tend to have a native sounding accent only in the community language. In the home language, usually children develop an accent. The following video explains how children acquire and produce language, what is also related to second language acquisition:
*Marta Herrero was born in Madrid. Since she was a little chatty girl her parents sent her to the UK and the USA every summer, where she lived with host-families. She loves languages and she has also studied German, French and Chinese. Since English was her favorite subject at school, she decided to study something related to languages and she chose Translation and Interpreting. During her studies, she obtained an Erasmus scholarship in Germany, where she improved her German skills; she has lived in Austria as well. In addition she has been travelling as a volunteer to different countries such as Mongolia or Morocco. She has been teaching English for years and now she is director of English Connection in Boadilla.