Posts Tagged language
This week was SXSW in Austin. I usually try to go see as many movies as possible. It was a lot of fun running from one independent movie to another, but I did have to get some work done so my time was somewhat divided. One of the films I really enjoyed was “Sound City” directed by David Grohl. The movie is about the history of a recording studio in Van Nuys, CA. Nirvana recorded their breakthrough album, Nevermind, at Sound City, along with many rock and roll greats including, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, and many others. I enjoyed listening to the clips of music (and there were a lot) as well as their stories from their years at the studio. The people who recorded there and the folks who ran the studio obviously had a lot of good memories and high regard for each other. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s interesting to understand bilingual language acquisition in the context of existing theories. This helps to better understand and interpret findings, and how well findings fit (or don’t) a theory helps to refine it. When there is an accumulation of findings that fit well, then we can better predict what might be going on even if there is little data.
A question that comes up frequently among bilingual speech-language pathologists who are testing children in two languages is what language to start testing in. There aren’t really clear guidelines. Some people advocate starting in the child’s home language; others suggest starting in the child’s stronger language; still others say that SLPs should follow the child’s lead and start in the language the child feels most comfortable in. We’ve tested many many kids over the last few years in English and Spanish. Sometimes we start in English other times we start in Spanish, and we do this regardless of what the child’s better or home language is. The reason we do this is so that we aren’t favoring one language over the other. For research purposes this makes sense because we’re interested in group data and we really don’t know what each child’s best language is. But, for clinical testing we are interested in individual performance and we want to get the best performance from kids as possible– if not the best performance at least information that is representative of their capabilities. And it’s for this reason that the question comes up. Maybe it does matter what language we start in. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the last few days I’ve gotten a number of questions about how to distinguish between language impairment and normal development in bilingual children probably due to the feature story on the UT Home page last week. It’s been great to hear from bilingual speech pathologists from around Texas and other areas of the country. I think that many are struggling to deal with the same questions that I’ve been pursuing with my colleagues. That is, how do we know what disorder looks like in bilinguals; and what can we do to document these distinctions? Read the rest of this entry »
I thought this was an interesting post on babble, the author discusses the advantages for children of having a nanny that speaks another language. This is a totally new take on bilingualism and one that isn’t often heard. Some people anyway, are getting the message that it could be an advantage for their children to know another language.
I read a very interesting article today in the NY Times. To me this work emphasizes how and what is communicated in different languages. It’s not just about knowing the words to say in another language (although that’s critical too). It’s about the experiences that makes us who we are as individuals and as part of a community.
The language we use reflects our knowledge about how to say things. It involves the semantics, grammar, and pragmatics of the language we learned. And while we often focus on differences in words and grammar across two languages I think that often that cross-linguistic pragmatics is overlooked in that context. That’s not to say that it’s not thought about– it is. But, it’s usually thought about separately from words and grammar. In fact there is a rich literature (probably in some cases more well-established literature) on cross-cultural differences. Check out West-Ed’s publications for some very practical applications. So, how does it all come together?
The Guilford Press is releasing a new book edited by Marilyn Shatz and Louise C. Wilkinson called: The Education of English Language Learners: Research to Practice. Lisa Bedore, Karin Boerger, and I have a chapter in it focusing on semantic development in bilinguals. Here’s a list of the chapter titles and authors (we think we’re in good company and we’re looking forward to seeing the book in print): Read the rest of this entry »
I started this blog a year ago on Christmas. We were in Wisconsin and everyone was sick. This year no one is sick and the one family accident we had turned out okay (though it could have been tragic– a helmet saved a life and we’re thankful for that, so wear those helmets!).
My dad died 3 years ago– I miss him. I’ve read that in Mexican tradition the third and final death is when you are no longer remembered. But, how can I forget? My parents are part of who I am– they are a part of me. My dad had qualities that I wish I had. I hope that some part rubbed off on me, but there we are different too. He was outgoing. He could strike up a conversation with anyone. I’m terrible at that, I’m most comfortable with people I know and have a terrible time talking to people I don’t know. But, I do manage to get through lectures and through talks at conferences. Read the rest of this entry »
Good morning and a happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This post is to discuss the use of the term “foreign languages”. I must confess that it is becoming a peeve of mine to read references, policy documents, and position papers containing the term “foreign languages”. What are those? Aren’t all languages foreign to someone, depending on who’s using the term? I advocate that we use the terms “diverse languages”, “non-English languages”, or use descriptors of language families (e.g. Indo-European or more specifically Germanic, Slavic, etc). To refer to English as English and other languages as foreign seems just a wee bit Anglocentric to me and perhaps facilitates the perception that the “foreign language” is somehow a distant idea or an uncommon notion. The truth is we in the United States represent a diverse and rich linguistic tapestry and many non-English languages are no longer foreign here.
My original intent was to write about our new article coming out in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (shameless plug I know), but this news article about L2 learners learning to distinguish spoken words by reading caught my eye.
In the original study published in PLoS ONE the authors argue that seeing a written word in addition to hearing it helps listeners to figure out what the word is (when it’s distorted or an element is missing). This helps listeners within a language understand another regional dialect (say an American English speaker hearing Australian English or a Mexican Spanish speaker listening to Argentine Spanish). Of course some of the differences are lexical but many are about the sounds and stress patterns.
The authors proposed that this same strategy could be used for second language learners who were used to another regional variety of that language. They had Dutch speakers who knew English watch excerpts of TV shows in Australian English or Scottish English (the participants indicated they had not spent significant time in either country). Three conditions were used: no subtitles, subtitles in English, subtitles in Dutch with half the participants watching Scottish and the other half Australian excerpts.
The Dutch participants were tested after watching 25 minutes of an episode. They listened to sentences from Scottish English and Australian English and had to repeat them. One quarter of the sentences were from the show they had watched, 1/4 were in the same dialect, but hadn’t heard the particular sentences before, and the rest (1/2) were from the other dialect. Read the rest of this entry »