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Language Learning, Bilingualism and Assimilation - Research Paper Example

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Language Learning, Bilingualism and Assimiltaion Introduction One is said to be bilingual if he/she van speak two different languages according to Bialystok and Martin (326). On the other hand, one is said to be multilingual if one can speak multiple languages…
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Language Learning, Bilingualism and Assimilation
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Language Learning, Bilingualism and Assimilation

One of the major factors that has seen the growth of multilingualism, is the ease of access to information as made possible by the establishment and growing use of the Internet. Indeed people are today getting more exposed to a variety of languages which has in essenc also triggered the need to learn new languages. Some quarters have argued that the learning of second languages has is associated with assimilation. This paper will argue that the learning of a second language is not necessarily part of assimilation. In spite of the potential differences in meaning of the terms bilingual and multilingual and their derivatives, this paper will use the two interchangeably. Every human society or culture communicates to a large extent through spoken word. What this means that language has played and continues to play a major role in communication. One may wonder how much backward the world would be without language. Arguably, the world would have developed faster if all humans used the same language to communicate. Although this is not the case, it is evident that humans are trying to overcome communication barriers by learning new languages and cultures. Bilingualism has beome a ommon phenomenon with many countries introducing foreign languages in school curricular. The spoken or written word is today more appreciated that ever before especilly considering the effects of successful and unsuccessful negotiations. Indeed, the power of language and word is beyond desription. Multilingualism The definition of the term multilingual is subject to much debate. While some scholars argue that a multilingual person is one who can passively or actively ommunicate in a language different from their first language. Others however argue that a multilingual person must acquire a first language during childhood through formal education (Kaplan 12). There are cases where a person learns two languages simulteneously which essentially makes one a simulteneous bilingual. Yet again, other sholars argue that a multilingual speaker is one who can accurately communicate in a second language almost as much as they an speak in their native language or mother tongue. People learn different languages in different ways according to Wolff (11). While some may acquire a new language during childhood by interacting with people who speak the second language, others learn by attending formal education (The Linguistic Society of America 2). A child may learn to speak two languages if both their parents speak different languages or if their signifiant others consistently communicate with them in the second language. In the United States of America, for example, most bilingual people are either immigrants or hildren of immigrants as noted by Richard and Victor (67). It is common to find an American child speaking English while in school and their mother tongue when at home. This also applies to other countries. While people can also learn a new language in old age, it is a fact that it becomes more difficult to acquire the new language as much as a native speaker as age progresses. The learning of a new language depends to some extent on the similarity between the two languages. Languages that are cloely related or that have similar syntax are easier to learn compared to their counterparts. Yet again, second language learning depends to a great extent on the urrent knowledge and previous experience of the learner in relation to the new language. Advantages and Disadvantages of Multilingualism Although many people ... Read More
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