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Dear Joe Research on early MFL learning/bilingualism

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by pibydd, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. pibydd

    pibydd New commenter

    I work in an English medium school in Wales so we are using incidental Welsh and teaching Welsh second language from reception onwards. Without wanting to be rude I think a lot of our parents and probably some staff don't really see the value of this which rubs off on the children.(The children will not be fluent by the are 16 and will almost certainly never try to speak it to a native - the perils of bilingualism.)
    I have always believed that being exposed to a "foreign" language from an early age and being encouraged to think bilingually develops the brain and makes any language learning at a later date easier. I'm doing an action research in trying to increase our bilingual approach in school as a way to improving our oracy at the end of KS2.
    I do a French week and Spanish week using 2simple's software and the children love it and really seem to pick up the words and remember them but never get that buzz from Welsh no matter how jazzy I make the lessons. I often wonder if the success in French and Spanish is due to learning Welsh from an early age or if the difficulty with Welsh is that the children have been exposed too soon/in the wrong way.
    I would be interested in any comments people have and would be grateful if I could be pointed in the direction of some papers/research that deal with this.
  2. pibydd

    pibydd New commenter

    Hoping for a response, please.

  3. dalej

    dalej New commenter

    I'm still making enquiries and will get back to you about this.
  4. dalej

    dalej New commenter

    Hi, having done a little research, it seems ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory & Practice at Bangor University would be a good place to start
    Here are some other links about Welsh and English bilingualism too.
    Hope that helps.
    Best wishes

  5. pibydd

    pibydd New commenter

    Thank you very much. I will follow these links up.
  6. Jessaki

    Jessaki Occasional commenter

    From a personal point of view being bilingual does help you understand other languages. They can micking other languages much easier, but they only really benefit once they understand the grammar of one (or both).
    I was raised speaking German and English. I moved a lot and didn;t get the chance to learn a third language until I went to university. All my tutors claimed learning a new language would be really easy for me because I could speak German, but I found it really hard. They kept referring to grammatical terms that I couldn't apply in either language - I couldnt see the difference in English and German because I just knew how to speak them. Even during my German A level I never picked up any grammar, I just knew what words/endings to put in the gaps.
    Eventually the penny dropped and I began to understand what my tutors were talking about. Once I'd understood the grammatical terminology and how that applied to German in comparison to English it made learning other languages much much easier.
    Incidentally I am now a languages teacher and an advocate of grammar teaching. I often ask my EAL pupils to look for comparisons in their native languages when trying to explain German grammar, rather than just relying in English/German examples and it seems to work.


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