Describe one advantage for child and adolescent development in a multilingual environment?

Response 1

Discussion 1 Week 9 Main Post

Question 1: Describe one advantage for child and adolescent development in a multilingual environment?

There are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about multilingual environments. One of the biggest stereotypes is that when children and adolescents are raised in multilingual environments, their cognitive development will be hindered because two or more languages will confuse their brains (Souto-Manning, 2006). Despite these popular beliefs, empirical research shows that this is not the case. According to Souto-Manning (2006), humans have the ability to learn infinite languages, and knowing one language is advantageous for learning another one with more ease. Very early in their development, infants and toddlers are like sponges and are able to be receptive to and absorb language easily. However, as we age, language acquisition is more difficult and takes more time and energy to learn. From personal experience, I was in multilingual Spanish classes in Jr. High and High School. I took four years of Spanish and only know the basics and I am not fluent. However, some of the students were raised in multilingual families growing up and were able to speak both languages with little effort. This example illustrates that from early development, children can become very efficient in multiple languages and have an advantage at language acquisition and comprehension. Parents and teachers can create positive atmospheres where children and adolescents naturally can interact with one another and enrich their vocabulary and better appreciate the cultural context of other languages (Souto-Manning, 2006). Research shows that bilingual children and adolescents have an advantage with thinking about more than one way about a concept and can be better problem solvers (Souto-Manning, 2006). Personally, if I ever have children, I would love to have them raised in a multilingual environment if possible.

Question 2: What is one challenge for a child or adolescent growing up in a multilingual environment?

One challenge in particular for children and adolescents who are socialized in a multilingual environment is their perceptions of others in the classroom. English language learners (ELL) perceive that their non-English language learners (non-ELL) have higher academic success (Leclair, Doll, Osborn, & Jones, 2009). ELL students become frustrated when they are not able to learn English as well as their non-ELL peers and prefer classrooms of their origin (Leclair et. al., 200). Children and adolescents constantly compare themselves to their classmates and when they see their peers are doing better than them, it increases their frustrations. Just imagine being a child that moves to a new school in the United States from a South American country and being in a class where all your peers speak English better than you. These frustrations are real and can have negative implications on positive development.

Question 3: What is one recommendation to help ameliorate the challenge that was identified?

When ELL children and adolescents are struggling in a multilingual classroom, teachers and parents can help by providing support. When teachers notice that an ELL student’s academics are lagging or the student is showing behavioral issues or frustrations in the classroom, they should consider having the student tutored or placed in a support classroom. A student that is tutored 1 on 1 with another teacher could help them catch up. Students that are struggling to learn English can also be placed in a smaller classroom with other students that have needs similar to theirs. This can create a positive supportive atmosphere for these kids to realize that they are not alone. Parents can also provide their children with extra support at home by helping them with their homework or language learning if possible. If parents and teachers work together than students in a multilingual classroom can have a more positive development.

References:

Leclair, C., Doll, B., Osborn, A., & Jones, K. (2009). English language learners and non-English language learners perceptions of the classroom environment. Psychology in the Schools, 46(6), 568–577.

Souto-Manning, M. (2006). Families learn together: Reconceptualizing linguistic diversity as a resource. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(6), 443–446.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Response 2

Being able to communicate in one or more languages is an incredible gift.  As a multilingual myself, I enjoy the rich experiences in connecting and communicating with a wider range of people from different cultures and ethnicities in the world.

Advantage for a child and adolescent in a multilingual environment

Children who speak more than one language possess a greater vocabulary and higher language awareness than monolinguals. For example, when speaking with friends, I tend to switch between languages to say certain words and this gives me more practice choosing important information and ignoring other details. Another advantage for children and adolescent in a multilingual environment is cognitive development. This will enable a young child to be more flexible in thinking and also learn reading more quickly.

Challenge for a child and adolescent in a multilingual environment.

Children and adolescents from multilingual environments are more likely to face challenges, particularly in a monolingual society.  In the U.S for instance, the myth that exposure to multiple languages in infancy complicates language and cognitive development may cause problems for families trying to expose their children to a second language in the home environment (Kroll & Dussias, n.d).  Also, children and adolescents from multilingual backgrounds may struggle with the language barrier which can cause them to drop out of school. Finally, assessing a young child from a multilingual environment may pose a challenge, because of the uncertainty as to whether the child is struggling cognitively or experiencing delays in speech (Laurette Education, Producer, 2014).

Recommendation

Given the growing body of evidence that multilingualism has many benefits for both children and young adult, I think it is essential to educate the public particularly those in monolingual societies. This may help reduce the stereotypes, and monolingual English speakers may develop new approaches to language learning.   Another recommendation worth making is to allow schools to teach and embrace cultural diversity.

References

Kroll, J. F., & Dussias, P. E. (n.d.). The Benefits of Multilingualism to the Personal and Professional Development of Residents of the US. FOREIGN LANGUAGE ANNALS, 50(2), 248–259.

 

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