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Once again, I got lost in the labyrinthian corridors of the University of York Language & Linguistic Science department, this time to speak to Tamar Keren-Portnoy about first language acquisition. There’s a lot of similarities between how we learn our first language and how we acquire our second language, so it’s a useful topic for ESL / EFL / second language teachers.
She gives us insights into such things as how babies develop syntax/grammar norms, why they learn some words earlier than others, how babies are not simply mimicking their caretakers and, through her own research with Rory DePaolis & Marilyn Vihman, how babies learn through listening and the sounds they themselves make.
You may remember Marilyn Vihman from episode 9 of MOT.
Later in the year, I’ll release a mini-episode about the developmental stages of babies.
Key words: baby, babies, acquisition, teaching, learning, babbling, language, babbling, cooing,
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To a monolingual, being bilingual or multilingual seems magical. More than one language in one head – no one can live at that speed! As a result, some unusual misconceptions have grown around linguistic phenomena that, globally, is far more common than speaking a single language.
Marilyin Vihman has significant experience in bilingualism both personally and academically. In this episode, recorded in her office at the University of York, we look at some of the myths about bilingual development and which are outright wrong and which lean closer to the truth than others.
The myths we bust – or, in some cases, bruise – are:
- Bilinguals are two monolinguals in one head
- Bilinguals start to speak later than monolinguals
- Babies soak up languages like sponges
- Some languages are more primitive than others, so are easier to learn
- English is widely spoken (as a second language) because it has less grammar
- Parents pass on mistakes and non-native accents to their children
- There’s one right way to raise a bilingual child
(Adapted from Pearson (2008))