The Rise And Fall Of The Three Stage Model In Bilingual Language Development

1824 words - 7 pages

The burst of interest recently in this area could be due to the recognition that being monolingual is not the common state. Romaine (1989) explains this saying that there are “thirty times as many languages as there are countries ... This entails the presence of bilingualism in practically every country of the world” (p.8). Bilinguals could be elites, who chose to be bilinguals, or folk bilinguals, who were forced in a situation, where acquiring another language became a necessity. Genesee defines bilingual acquisition as, “the acquisition of two languages during the period of primary language development, extending from birth onward” (2000, p.167). Acquiring two languages can be one language at a time (sequential) or at the same time, (Simultaneous). This paper will focus on the simultaneous bilingualism, otherwise known as bilingual first language acquisition: the three-stage model valid or.
Bilingual First Language Acquisition
Ng and Wigglesworth (2007) give a broad definition of bilingual first language acquisition (BFLA) stating that it is “is the learning of both languages in a naturalistic setting, in which both the formal aspects and the social conventions of the languages must be acquired. Thus, the child must learn about the phonological properties of both languages” (p.40). Most researches agree that it is from birth until the age of three. However, it can be argued that by three, the child has already begun speaking fluently. The first spoken word ranges from the ages of ten months to fourteen. Keeping in mind that a child accumulates language even before speaking, it is possible to narrow down the age limit; Critical Period Hypothesis gives an estimate that is parallel. “Scholars have made a distinction between two critical periods for language. From birth to about age 2 children need exposure to language in order to develop the brain structures necessary for language acquisition” (VanPatten & Benati, 2010, p.78). Meisel (2011), agrees with this because “the productive use of grammatical morphology and of multi-word utterances emerges only during the second year, mostly during the second half of the second year” (p.212). He further explains it saying, “awareness of bilingualism begins to develop during the second half of the children’s second year of life, possibly as early as 1;7, certainly around age 2;0, as is shown bt the first metalinguistic utterances referring to their bilingualism” (2008, p.97-98).
Language Systems Hypotheses
Being bilingual presents a special case to study the complex brain functions and the fashion it is wired to receive and master a language. By investigating the acquisition process, linguists arrived to a fork in the road; do simultaneous bilinguals have one or two language systems? Hence, two theories emerged: The Unitary Language system Hypothesis (ULSH), where the child does not initially have differentiated systems for the language to which s/he was exposed and the Alternative Hypothesis in which...

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