Monday, 26 December 2011

Do Infants Only Learn "One" Language Well? (1)

Do Infants Only Learn "One" Language Well? (1)

Can A Young Child’s Brain Only Manage to Learn One Language at a Time?

Today, half the world population speaks at least two languages and multilingualism is generally considered an asset. Yet for long, many have believed that learning a new language is problematic for the native language.

Superstitions on this die hard and are often based on the false representation of language in the brain. One myth is that the more one learns a new language, the more one necessarily loses the other.

Another myth imagines two languages as occupying separate areas in the brain without contact points such that knowledge acquired in one language cannot be transferred to the other.

From these ideas, it has been supposed that the simultaneous learning of two languages during infancy would create a mixture of the two languages in the brain and slow down the development of the child. The false inference is that the native language had to be learned “correctly” before beginning another one.
"Understanding the Brain", The Birth of a Learning Science, 2007, page 118

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