Posts Tagged Dutch

Happy 4th of July

It’s the 4th of July, US Independence! So what can I write about that has to do with bilingualism? The US Constitution of course. Did you know that the Constitution was translated to Dutch in 1788? After the Declaration of Indepedence in 1776 and the end of the revolutionary war in 1781, the Constitution was written to establish the form of the US federal government. In order to adopt the Constitution, a majority of states had to approve– or ratify the document. There was a large Dutch population in the state of New York, so in order for the population to understand the language of the Constitution, it was translated to Dutch. This translation is credited for convincing the people of New York to join the US.

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Visiting Indiana

I’m giving one of the talks this year at the Crossroads Conference (tomorrow) at Purdue University. It’s an annual conference sponsored by NSSLHA. Anyway, I usually like to look at the demographic changes in ELL enrollment when I visit a state. I think it helps me to situate what the needs might be concerning bilinguals and helps me to see the challenges that some of the speech-language pathologists might be facing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gregynog

I’m at a bilingual workshop this week in Wales at Gregynog Hall. The location is fantastic and you don’t really get a sense of the scale of it until you’re here. The focus of the conference is on assessment of bilinguals. It was organized and sponsored by ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practices. There have been a number of interesting talks and exciting discussion. What’s fun about this kind of workshop is that everyone is studying bilingualism albeit in different populations (children and adults for example) and different languages in any number of combinations (including Welsh, Irish, Spanish, Basque, Dutch, and English) and for different purposes (proficiency, ability, dominance). So, I’ll be posting over the next day or so (and probably once I get back) on what I’ve learned here.

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Cognate Advantage

This article caught my eye today. It’s published in Psych Science and looks at the effects of L2 on L1. Often, studies of sequential bilinguals look at the effects of L1 on L2, but here the investigators examined reading effects of L2 on L1. Specifically, participants were young adults (college students) who were native speakers of Dutch. They spoke (and read) English as a second language. They were asked to read passages in Dutch while investigators tracked their eye movements. What’s really cool about eye-tracking studies is that they offer a “window” into how a person is processing information. If they allocate a lot of attention to something it might be because they need extra time to decode or process. If they spend less time on something it’s likely because they were able to assimilate that information quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Regional Dialects and L2 Learners

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 »

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Can my child become bilingual?

Yes, of course your child can become bilingual. Everyday demand or need to use different languages usually will push children toward bilingualism. That’s the easy answer.  The more complicated answer has to do with how to create an environment at home in which children CAN become bilingual.

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