1. a bilingual as a person who is able to speak and understand two languages
2. a bilingual as a person who can use sign language, such as British Sign Language or Swedish Sign Language, many deaf persons are such bilinguals.
3. a bilingual as a person who can read a second language ﬂuently, even write it well, but who cannot speak or understand its spoken form to any signiﬁcant degree – many Sanskrit bilinguals would fall into this category.
B. Is bilingualism beneﬁcial or detrimental?
1. Most of us consider bilingualism as something good, an advantage.
a. Knowledge of another language enables people to communicate with members of other cultures in their own language. This, in turn, provides a means for furthering cooperation and understanding among nations and peoples.
b. Knowing another language is also important within countries where there is more than one prevalent or ofﬁcial language, as in Switzerland, which has four ofﬁcial languages: German, French, Italian, Romansh.
2. Restricted to young children learning a second language, some people believe that if a second language is learned at an early age, it can be harmful
a. The learning of the second language would retard or negatively inﬂuence the learning of the native language,
b. It would intellectually retard the development of thinking and of such cognitive capacities as mathematics and reading.
C. Sequential and simultaneous learning situations
There are essentially two conditions according to which a person may become bilingual:
a. The two languages can be acquired sequentially, such as the second language being learned later at school.
b. Simultaneously, such as where the young child is exposed to two different languages in the home at the same time. Simultaneous learning, by its very nature, is thus for children only.
D. Transfer Effects of Language 1 on the Learning of Language 2
1. First language similar to second language
2. Facilitation occurs even between very different languages
E. Strategies for second-language production
1. The First-Language Strategy and the Second-Language Strategy
These strategies are applied when relevant second- language knowledge is not yet available or is incomplete. In The First-Language Strategy, Supposing that the English-speaking person did not know the Japanese rule, then this could well be an instance, not of interference, but of the result of using the First-Language Strategy, that is, applying ﬁrst-language knowledge to the second language. When second-language knowledge is lacking, this strategy is very useful. It is one that, we believe, all second-language learners automatically use and rely on, especially in conversation. Usually it is better to say something, even if wrong, than to say nothing. This strategy will allow for something to be said, even though it is based on knowledge of the ﬁrst language.
2. Strategies for sentence production and communication
Strategies that are used for the purpose of keeping the conversation going involve communication’ strategies. Communication strategies may have an effect on learning since the more the learner speaks the greater linguistic input the learner will receive. The greater the input, the more the opportunity for language learning. This type of strategy includes overgeneralization, in which a rule of the second language is applied in inappropriate contexts.
F. Strategies for Becoming a Better Second-Language Learner.
The strategies used by successful language learners include: (I) verification: checking to see if them hypotheses about the language are correct, (2) inductive processing: creating hypotheses about the second language based on one' s second- or first language knowledge, (3) deductive reasoning: using general logic in problem solving, (4) practice: such as repetition, rehearsal, and imitation, (5) memorization: including mnernonic strategies and repetitions for the purpose of storage and retrieval, and (6) monitoring: being alert to the making of errors and paying attention to how one's message is received by the listener. While one could argue that these are strategies that any language learner naturally uses, research indicates that the explicit teaching of such strategies will improve the capacity of the learner.
G. Teaching Reading in a Bilingual Situation at Home
1. How to teach the reading of two languages
Suppose that parents are raising their child bilingually with, say, English and Chinese. Suppose too that the parents wish to teach the child to read both languages.
a. The parents should be using the One Person–One Language (1P–1L) approach.
In this approach, each parent speaks one language only to the child, e.g., the mother speaks Chinese and the father speaks English, and the child learns both languages (as speech) simultaneously.
b. As for teaching reading, however, we recommend that the teaching be done sequentially, with the second language following the ﬁrst after a year or two.
2. Which language should be read ﬁrst?
We would recommend that the language to be learned ﬁrst is the one that is most important for the child’s welfare. Basically, it should be the language that is used in the community and in school. The second language will not be hard to teach to read after the ﬁrst, because once the child can read the ﬁrst language, he or she will have learned the basic principles of reading. These principles will make the learning of second-language reading easier.