Admissions Blog

 

Bilingualism: Interview with Dr. Fred Genesee, Professor Emeritus & Author

Rochambeau welcomed bilingual specialist, Dr Fred Genesee, McGill Professor Emeritus & Author for a conference on the benefits of bilingualism on April 7.

Q: How quickly will my child acquire a second language?

FG: Languages are complicated! Don’t make too many judgements too soon, because it doesn’t happen overnight.  Acquiring advanced levels of proficiency in a second language is a long term commitment. In one sense, second language learners never stop learning their new language because, as they get older and have increasingly more complex uses for their second language, they need to learn more. 

In the case of students in dual language programs in schools, to achieve the maximum benefit of the program, parents should be prepared to keep their child in the program throughout the elementary grades and, preferable, in secondary school.

For parents who want their children to acquire highly advanced levels of proficiency, it is a good idea to consider ways in which to expand their children's opportunities to use the language outside school by visits to countries and areas where the language is spoken or by finding opportunities to use the language with native speakers in their own community. 

In the case of students in dual language programs in schools, to achieve the maximum benefit of the program, parents should be prepared to keep their child in the program throughout the elementary grades and, preferable, in secondary school.

For parents who want their children to acquire highly advanced levels of proficiency, it is a good idea to consider ways in which to expand their children's opportunities to use the language outside school by visits to countries and areas where the language is spoken or by finding opportunities to use the language with native speakers in their own community. 

Q: Can learning a second or third language be detrimental to my child’s native language?

FG: If children speak a native language that is used at home and especially if it is used outside school on a regular basis, then research indicates that their competence in that language will not suffer, and they are not at a disadvantage. To the contrary, research has found that such situations can enhance students' native language skills, especially in the domains related to literacy and schooling 

Q: f you were to give advice to a family at Rochambeau, or considering bilingualism for their child, what would you recommend?

FG: I would recommend that they make a long term commitment to this endeavor; this means keeping their child in the program as long as possible and creating opportunities to use the non-English outside school as much as possible. Cognitive and other benefits of bilingualism result from full bilingualism.  Since the students live in a community which is dominated by English, there needs to be much less concern for reinforcing that language. Reinforcing the value of multilingualism is an asset for future job and life-style choices.


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Posted by vmeriot in Bilingulism on Wednesday May, 2, 2018 at 02:12PM

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