Do the Advantages Out Weigh the Disadvantages of Language Development in Bilingual Children Versus Monolingual Children?

7 July 2016

The reason I chose to study language development between bilingual and monolingual children is while reading our text book,(Lifespan Development, Denise Boyd and Helen Bee, Fifth Edition, 2003, 2006, 2009, p. 137); It discussed the advantages and disadvantages of being raised speaking two languages versus one single language. Our texts states that there are many advantages and disadvantages to being bilingual and ask’s if the advantages out weigh the disadvantages later in life? Obviously, the big advantage of speaking a second language is how marketable that person will be as an adult in any career he / she chooses.

The number of Americans that speak a different language other than english is growing, or they are very limited in their speech and understanding of the english language. So, the ability to speak and understand a second language is very bene? cial when put in a situation like this. On the down side, our text book states that,” bilingual children hit their developmental milestones later than those learning a single language. They are behind monolingual infants in word knowledge no matter which language is considered.

Do the Advantages Out Weigh the Disadvantages of Language Development in Bilingual Children Versus Monolingual Children? Essay Example

” (Boyd , Bee, p. 137). This is thought to effect their writing abilities, and they may develop reading skills more slowly as well as a lack of memory tasks involving words. Even though bilingual children may hit certain developmental milestones more slowly, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in that these children not only have a marketable skill later in life, they have learned how to overcome the language developmental challenges of learning two languages at the same time verses a single language.

I have doubts about bilingual children hitting their developmental milestones more slowly as I have watched friends’ children, who are being raised in bilingual families, grow and have seen them interact with monolingual children with no delay in language development. One thing I have noticed, is that the toddlers’ and the school — agers’ seem to prefer speaking spanish over english and do mix the two languages as they speak. After reading this, I decided to see what my observations outcomes would be.

I wanted to test the children and their memory on word knowledge, and compare both groups of children on their language development. I set up two times for the parents’ and their children to meet for play-dates, September 25 and 26th, 2010. On Saturday, we met at Loriella park and on Sunday, we met at one of the parents home. The time we met was at 11:00 in the morning so we could serve them lunch and I could watch them interacted with each other. This also gave me time to talk to the moms’ about how they felt their school age children were doing now that they are back in school.

The children of the study were as follows: Alexis (female) and Alex (male) both 8 years old and in second grade, from a middle class bilingual family. Nico (male) 35 – months — old, from a middle class bilingual family. Both parents are bilingual. Rosa (Female) 34 – months — old, from a middle class bilingual family. Both parents are bilingual. Alyni (female) 7 years old, in second grade, my daughter, from a middle class monolingual family. Brendon (male) 7 years old, in second grade, from a middle class, monolingual family.

Procedures used: On September, 25th I read the children a short story, (Starry Safari, Ashman, 2005) and asked each of the children separately and in private three questions. “What is the story about? “; “Who is the story about? “; And, “What is this animal? “; Where I pointed to an animal on page 20 of (Starry Safari, Ashman, 2005). I just wanted to see if reading a story helped the bilingual children understand the use of the english words and remember its meaning.

For the next test, I picked out three of the letters in the alphabet and showed it to the children while reading the story; Corresponding each letter to a picture in the story, “L” with the lion; “M” with the Monkey; And “B” with the boy. I wanted to see if the children would remember what each letter stood for at the end of the story. This was also done in private with each child separately. These questions were asked directly after the story, and the following day without reading the story ? rst. I also had the parents’ of the bilingual children

randomly ask question in english to see what language their children preferred to respond with, this was done through out the weekend. After reading the story we went to Loriella park so I could observe how the children interacted with each other and what language the bilingual children preferred to use when at play. Procedure Results: As I observed the older children at play and during lunch, at both the park and at the home, the response was the same for both environments. I noticed that the bilingual children spoke to each other in spanish and when they had questions, asked their parents’ the questions in spanish.

The parents explained to me that they usually did this because they were being shy, or they were confused about something. When the school — agers’ spoke to the monolingual children it was usually in english. Occasionally, they would misplace an english word for a spanish word. When the toddlers’ would interact with each other, the bilingual children would talk mixing their language and the monolingual children would usually look at the mother for an explanation, or they would just carry on in their play or whatever they were doing at the time.

When the mothers’ of the bilingual children would ask them questions in english, e. g. , “Do you have to use the restroom? ” or, “Are you hungry? ” The bilingual school — age children always replied in spanish unless speci? cally told to answer in english. When I spoke to the moms’ about this in relation to school they both said that they would have answered the teacher in english, sometimes they’d get ahead of themselves and respond in spanish but 90% of the time it would have been answered in english.

I asked why they thought this was and both said that, “Even though both languages are spoken at home, they feel more comfortable speaking spanish, it is an easier language to learn. ” When these questions were asked to the toddlers’, their mothers’ would always ask in english ? rst and then in spanish, and when they responded, it too, was always answered in spanish, when told to answer in english, they’d hesitate and responded mixing the two languages and their mothers’ would correct the words they couldn’t say in english. These words were usually the large words like restroom, hungry, or sandwich.

When I asked their mothers’ why those words were harder for the kids, they said it was spoken differently in spanish, easier for the kids to understand. The example they used was, “Bread with peanut butter and jelly on it versus sandwich. ” They also explained to me that the spanish language doesn’t have a lot of words that have a double meaning and if they do they are asked differently. One of the moms’ used to be a spanish teacher and she explained it to me in detail, “In spanish, the adjective usually follows the noun, it is the opposite in english, e.

g. , I have to go to the restroom? In english; Turns into, to the potty I have to go, in spanish. ” Obviously the monolingual children; School – age and toddlers, had no dif? culty in answering these questions. When I spoke to the mothers’ on their second graders performance in school, they both said that they were not experiencing learning dif? culties due to being bilingual. When I incorporated the “tests. ” Both, the school — aged children and the toddlers’ seemed to enjoy the story. I read the story at the home ?

rst, and asked my series of questions before we were distracted by the park. The school— aged children answered all the questions correctly and in english. When I showed them the letters, they answered correctly in english. When I asked the toddlers’, Nico needed help understanding the questions, so I had the mothers’ translate when needed. They did answer the questions correctly, but they answered with mixed language, and I needed their answers translated. When we got to the letters they did remember that, “L” stood for Lion, “M” stood for Monkey, and “B” stood for Boy.

The following day, Sunday, I repeated the questions in private and separately again to see if they retained the knowledge. The school — aged children did very well and answered the questions correctly and remembered what each of the letters stood for. The toddlers’ were able to understand the english question better, and with less translation from their mother. But, they still responded using both languages. When I showed each of them the letters and asked if they remembered what they stood for they responded mostly in spanish.

Rosa used “RRRRROOOOOAAAAARRRRRR” in representation for the “L,” and Nico replied with “Nino” for boy. ( Nino is spanish for boy. ) Both were correct on “M,” they both said monkey. When I compared my research to what is stated in our text I have to agree with the book. The text states, “For example, bilingual infants’ receptive and expressive vocabularies are as large as those of monolingual infants, but the words they know are divided between two languages, by Patterson, 1998” ( as cited in Boyd, Bee, 2009, p. 137). This was proven by the bilingual toddlers.

They have large vocabularies, they just mixed the languages. The school — aged children also tended to mix their languages depending on the usage, but not as bad as the toddlers. They seem to understand the English language, I think they just start talking and which ever language the word is easier to say is the one that comes out. I also agree with our text when it states, “In preschool and school — age children, bilingualism is associated with a clear advantage in metalinguistic ability, or the capacity to think about language,” by Bialystok, Shen?

eld, & Codd, 2000; Mohanty & Perregaux, 1997 ( as cited in Boyd, Bee, 2009, p. 137). This was clearly stated when the school — aged children answered questions in english, you could see them concentrating on their answers to make sure they answered it correctly. The toddlers were similar but didn’t think about for as long and then would just say the spanish equivalent. The memory skills of the bilingual toddlers seem to be slower at developing as the letter to corresponding animal proved. They understood the letter, but the word recognition wasn’t there.

“Roar” from Rosa’s response to “L” for Lion, and Nico’s response to “B” for boy was the spanish equivalent, Nino. The school — aged children seem to do okay with the word recognition. The monolingual children had no problem with remembering the story, answering the questions both days and had no trouble remembering the letter and it’s corresponding animal again concurring with the text, “Consequently, they are behind monolingual infants in word knowledge no matter which language is considered, a difference that persist into the school years.

” (Boyd, Bee, 2009, p. 137. ) Conclusion: In conclusion as to my research, do the advantages out weigh the disadvantages of bilingual children versus monolingual children I would have to say, yes. Even though, as the bilingual children’s language developmental milestones are hit slower, and they experience dif? culties, in the end, the advantages they gain by learning how to, “Develop compensatory strategies that allow them to overcome these obstacles. ” (Boyd, Bee, 2009 p. 137) is worth it.

The advantages to being bilingual as adults clearly out weighs the disadvantages in my opinion. Especially after seeing the accomplishments of the parents who weren’t a part of the study. The fathers were able to support a household on his own salary and the Mother’s were able to be stay at home Mom’s. I think that bilingual children are an asset to the future of this society, especially with the increase of Hispanics in this country and to the people that only speak one language. This applies to all bilingual children no matter what the languages.

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