Additional TEFL Courses

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A.A. - Germany said:
BilingualismThere is a general idea that each person has a mother tongue. This term is however problematic. Just think of the bilingually educated child who knows German best but says ?German is my father tongue.? Therefore, other terms exist such as native language, or cradle tongue. They refer to the language exposed to within a so-called critical period, i.e. the first few years in childhood. But, then, everybody knows of immigrant kids to the US who due to schooling and environment develop a different sociolinguistic identity than that of their parents. Slowly, their dominant language changes to English, which eventually becomes their first language. This is why most linguists prefer this term. Wikepedia identifies five criteria for a person?s first language: origin and early exposure, internal identification, external identification, competence, use. Now, it becomes clear that the notion of first language is a relative one. And it may change over a person?s lifetime. The order of learning and proficiency might not necessarily go together. The author of this article takes the liberty to cite her own example here: With Dutch being the mother?s tongue (which my mother stopped speaking to me when I was three), the score for English would yet be higher than that for German in spite of schooling. One would call a person who speaks more than one (native) language bilingual. Romaine also takes a developmental perspective and claims that bilingualism is a question of degree. The forms stated are incipient, passive or receptive, semilingual, productive and near-native proficiency. While she quotes one source saying that half the world population is bilingual, and bilingualism is present in practically all countries, she concedes that true balanced bilingualism is extremely rare, and because of community influence there is usually one language dominant. Moreover, the phonological, grammatical, lexical, semantic, stylistic, and communicative (or sociolinguistic) levels a person attains may differ in degree. Sometimes, you would find people who are stronger in a certain topic in one language, even if their dominant language is another. Traditionally, bilingualism is found in immigrant societies, multilingual societies such as India, South Asia, Africa, and in many places in Europe with regional languages. Luxembourg is an interesting example, designated as ?ambilingual? (Wikepedia), i.e. you are never sure which language to use, and there is a lot of switching, both within clauses and between them, as well as a form of pidgin. Today, with the needs of globalisation, growing cultural openness and international interactions, and easy access to the Internet, bilingualism has become a more common phenomenon. Often, English acts as the lingua franca, in the world of music, entertainment, tourism, as well as in the professions, for instance. What does this topic make interesting with respect to a tefl course? Lightbown and Spada point out that there are significant similarities between first and second language acquisition. This in consequence means that looking at bilingual people may bring about insights as to how languages are learned. Bilingualism may come about sequentially, so it would make sense to aim at bilingualism when teaching English. While it is true that pre-puberty learners are more successful than post-puberty ones, the outcome for the latter group is varied. That means that age is not necessarily an impediment. On the contrary, older learners may be more efficient learners. In short, both teachers and learners of English would want to watch out for a form of natural language development. For that, motivation, interest, readiness to learn, and responsiveness are the required stepping stones. The melody of English and an understanding of how the language system works are important. Once the learner thinks about English not so much as a foreign language, but as a second language, the learning process becomes far easier. Bilingualism is often regarded as additive, that is to say it is enriching to the person. If teachers and students can see it like this they are half way there. I believe this is why engaging and activating play such a large role in ESA. Sources Wikipedia (2012): articles on First Language, Multilingualism Lightbown, Patsy M.; Spada, Nina (2006): How languages are learned, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press. Romaine, Suzanne (1989): Bilingualism, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.


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