Author Topic: Question for parents of bilingual children (English-Spanish)  (Read 67 times)

Offline Sinnaysinnay

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Question for parents of bilingual children (English-Spanish)
« on: December 05, 2021, 02:33:59 PM »
Hi!  :)

For the last week I've been wondering about how bilingual children (English-Spanish) might struggle with the acquisition of the "ser"/"estar" copulas, considering how these are marked in Spanish & used in specific linguistic contexts while "to be" is the only option in English. I remember how hard the distinction was for me to learn as a non-native speaker so I'm just curious whether any inference from English might complicate matters even further...Are there any parents of bilingual children who have noticed certain challenges in this regard? It would be super interesting to hear about your experiences!

Thanks in advance for sharing!  :)

Offline Daniel

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Re: Question for parents of bilingual children (English-Spanish)
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2021, 12:16:30 AM »
As a rule, children learn their native languages easily, including bilingual children. What's hard for adult learners simply isn't hard for children.

In this case, yes, the relationship between the two languages is 1-to-2, but that's true of so many things, it's just a normal part of bilingualism. Consider the English pronouns he-she-it and Spanish él-ella, which is a 3-to-2 relation and split up differently. Or how there are more forms of verbs in Spanish than in English, or specifically two aspectual distinctions in the past tense (one is punctual, and one is prolonged duration, but both are past tense, like the English past, though that's not split).

On the other hand, there has been so much research on this topic regarding second language acquisition there is probably some experimental or observational research on children too, as a baseline. I haven't specifically looked into it, but I'd assume you can find it out there.
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Offline Rock100

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Re: Question for parents of bilingual children (English-Spanish)
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2021, 10:44:33 AM »
> As a rule, children learn their native languages easily, including bilingual children.
> What's hard for adult learners simply isn't hard for children.
I believe it is probably because adult learners study their native languages on a different level.
BTW, they say that human memory is associative. And associative sequences of a (normally developed) adult are much richer than ones of a child. Not to mention analytic skills…

Offline Daniel

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Re: Question for parents of bilingual children (English-Spanish)
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2021, 03:33:56 PM »
This is going on a bit of a tangent now from the original question, but there's a specific proposal to explain your observation about adult cognitive functions being more developed than those in children and why children reach higher ultimate attainment in languages than adults: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elissa_L._Newport#Less_is_More_Hypothesis
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Offline Rock100

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Re: Question for parents of bilingual children (English-Spanish)
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2021, 05:38:18 PM »
> This is going on a bit of a tangent now from the original question, but
I just hope nobody complains to moderators…

> there's a specific proposal to explain your observation about adult cognitive
> functions being more developed than those in children and why children
> reach higher ultimate attainment in languages than adults:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elissa_L._Newport#Less_is_More_Hypothesis
Thanks for the reference. Though this is the very first specialized material I have read so far I completely disagree with Newport's conclusions. After thinking 5 minutes about the subject, I believe there are two main forces that effect the perception speed: the interest (the most important) and threats. There are other motivations (money and other boons) but I think they are much less important. An adult knows all his weaknesses (dyslexia, autism, etc.) and strong abilities (like photographic memory or something) and is capable to develop optimal just for him methods to study a thing. With such a power, he will outperform any child. The only advantage of children – they are extremely interested. Enormously interested. Many adults lose this ability. But if and adult is a fan of a thing, say, learning new languages, he will outperform any child. I used to be from an academic environment and I met such people a lot. Professional mathematicians, physicists, and most likely linguists are extremely fast in understanding new concepts and ideas in adjacent fields.
I also believe that smart adults do realize that they have a choice to act analytically, children-like or another way they have developed for themselves. They shall outperform children (if they bother to train themselves a proper way, of course).
I no double will think about it again.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Question for parents of bilingual children (English-Spanish)
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2021, 11:21:50 PM »
(There's a lot more to it than just thinking about it for 5 minutes. The general idea is that having more cognitive resources is, in some sense, a distraction, and good for other activities adults do, but not so good for the kind of learning through experience children need to do for language. By being able to memorize or explicitly analyze grammatical patterns, adults may rely on that superficial skill instead of actually learning the grammar natively. It's a very interesting hypothesis, and there's a lot more to read about it.)
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