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Bilingualism and Foreign Language Learning: Some reflections on a neglected topic. Dieter Wolff (Beijing, May 2007). Working hypothesis. Bilingual individuals (whether they speak two or more languages) are better language learners in institutionalised learning contexts than monolinguals

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bilingualism and foreign language learning some reflections on a neglected topic

Bilingualism and Foreign Language Learning: Some reflections on a neglected topic

Dieter Wolff

(Beijing, May 2007)

working hypothesis
Working hypothesis

Bilingual individuals (whether they speak

two or more languages) are better

language learners in institutionalised

learning contexts than monolinguals

because their language learning abilities

are more developed

structure of the paper
Structure of the paper
  • Introduction
  • Types of bilingualism
  • The language learning abilities of the bilingual individual
  • Language awareness
  • Consequences for the foreign language classroom
types of bilingualism
Types of bilingualism
  • Enforced bilingualism which develops in migratory contexts leading to different sub-types
  • Elitist bilingualism which develops through bilingual education in the family
types of bilingualism1
Types of bilingualism
  • Instructed bilingualism which develops through the teaching of foreign languages in the classroom
  • Geographically or socially induced bilingualism which develops because a person lives in a regional or social context in which several languages are spoken
the language learning abilities of the bilingual research results
The language learning abilities of the bilingual: Research results
  • Bilingualism is a positive feature
  • Elitist bilinguals have a more developed competence with respect to information processing than monolinguals
  • Under certain conditions enforced bilinguals develop higher thinking skills and language learning abilities than monolinguals
the language learning abilities of the bilingual research results1
The language learning abilities of the bilingual: Research results
  • An enforced bilingual‘s school problems disappear when the child‘s first language is taken into account in the teaching/learning process
  • Under certain conditions children growing up with two languages develop semilingualism
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Bilingualism has a positive influence on cognition especially with elitist bilinguals
  • The type of bilingualism influences the learning of another language
  • Competence in the learner‘s two languages plays an important role in learning another language
conclusions1
Conclusions
  • Promoting competence in the learner‘s two languages enhances the language learning abilities with respect to another language
  • Highly competent bilinguals have a specifically developed ability to recognise structures and functions of new languages
language awareness definition
Language awareness: definition

Language awareness can be defined as an understanding of the human faculty of language and its role in thinking, learning, and social life. It includes an awareness of power and control through language, and of the intricate relationships between language and culture

language awareness domains
Language awareness: domains
  • The cognitive domain which includes the development of an awareness for patterns, contrasts, categories, rules and systems
  • The performance domain which comprises an awareness for language processing and for language learning
  • The affective domain which relates to the development of attitudes, attention, curiosity, interests and esthetic feelings
language awareness domains1
Language awareness: domains
  • The social domain which relates to the development of an understanding for other languages and a tolerance for minorities and their languages
  • The power domain which relates to the ability of understanding language with respect to its potential to influence and manipulate others
language awareness research results
Language awareness: research results
  • The cognitive domain is particularly well developed in elitist bilinguals (Danesi)
  • The performance domain is well developed in elitist and, to a lesser extent, in enforced bilinguals (Cummins)
  • The affective domain is highly developed in all types of bilinguals (Schumann, Byram)
language awareness research results1
Language awareness: research results
  • The social domain is well developed especially in elitist bilinguals (Hoffmann)
  • The power domain is best developed in elitist bilinguals
language awareness conclusions
Language awareness: conclusions
  • Elitist bilinguals have a highly developed language awareness potential which they can use to a high degree of flexibility in instructed language learning situations
  • The language awareness potential of enforced bilinguals is lower probably even than that of monolinguals
language awareness conclusions1
Language awareness: conclusions
  • Instructed bilinguals have a low awareness potential probably not exceeding that of monolinguals
  • With respect to bilinguals speaking a standard language and a dialect the results available are so scarce that no valid indication can be given
consequences for the foreign language classroom
Consequences for the foreign language classroom
  • In enforced bilingualism the promotion of focal awareness is highly important
  • In instructed bilingualism promotion depends on the language teaching approach. Learners in a communicative classroom are in need of promoting focal awareness.
  • Elitist bilinguals will probably need some help in developing their focal awareness