Bilingualism or bilingualism refers to the ability of some people to speak two languages. Thus, bilingualism means that a person belongs to several social groups at once.
It's no surprise that parents try to teach their children multiple languages at an early age. This can be a step into the future, or maybe both mom and dad speak several languages in the family. But psychologists and educators are hotly debated about this. Is it harmful or beneficial for a growing and fragile brain and psyche? In this matter, several myths have formed, which we will consider.
Learning two languages is harmful to a child, because it only reduces the child's intelligence. He will stop gaining new, general knowledge, and will only deal with speech perception. This myth arose from research conducted in the United States about 40 years ago. True, they were not well planned, which led to distortion of the results. During this time, new studies have appeared under the supervision of the best specialists and teachers. It has been proven that bilingualism in children does not in the least lead to a decrease in intelligence. The results even showed that such students, on the contrary, have higher mental performance. Bilingual children have better developed thinking, memory, they perceive mathematics better. Studies have shown that the initial results were obtained at the time of mass migration into the country. At that time, the intellectual abilities of bilingual children really suffered. But this was not based on the study of a second language, but on the difficult life situation around, the frequent stresses common for an immigrant family, and difficult living and social conditions. Then the tested children did not know the second language at all, experiencing difficulties with communication. It was impossible to include them in the category of bilingual.
A child with such training will begin to get confused in languages. Many parents notice that children growing up in a bilingual environment can use words from different languages in the initial stages of communication in one phrase. This is understandable, because certain words have an easier pronunciation or are simply shorter than their counterparts from another language. Such a reaction is quite normal for a child, as if he is protecting himself from the mental flow. However, this phenomenon is only temporary, passing with age. Naturally, this will only happen when learning languages from birth. In addition, some words, say, in English have no Russian counterparts at all. In this case, the mixing of languages is understandable and justified.
A bilingual child will definitely have speech therapy problems. Do not substitute concepts. Problems with a child's diction have nothing to do with his bilingualism. This is a consequence of stress, a difficult situation in the family, when a child is forcibly forced to speak another language. The incautious introduction of a student into a new language environment may also be to blame. In this case, the parents should be as prudent as possible, taking the correct and verified actions step by step. After all, the baby must avoid stress, pressure and excitement. Recent studies have shown that the difference in the pronunciation of sounds, on the contrary, has a positive effect on the development of the child's speech apparatus. As a result, his speech in both languages becomes clearer and his diction more pronounced.
You should start learning the second language only when the child is already fluent in his native language. This is a fairly common misconception. If a child from his very birth, in an atmosphere of warmth, love and responsiveness, learns not even two, but three languages at once, then the parents will get a good result from such training. And if you force a child to speak in one language or another, this will lead to stress, and subsequently to a number of speech therapy disorders. A sudden immersion from the native monolingual environment into another linguistic community will also adversely affect the child's psyche. With children, it is necessary to comprehend everything new gradually, avoiding sudden steps, like "throwing a puppy into the water." It is necessary to recall the principle of introducing complementary foods during breastfeeding. First, the baby received food in drops, then in small spoons. The same principle should be applied in this case.
If the child speaks two languages, then he will not feel comfortable in either of the two language spaces. The student will simply get lost between the two cultures, unable to determine his place. Such myths are cultivated by those who have experienced similar problems, having found themselves in a different language environment in adulthood. People live and communicate in a foreign language for themselves, experiencing problems with social adaptation. But among children who grew up in a bilingual environment from an early age (from birth to 11 years), there are simply no such problems. Children easily identify themselves with two linguistic cultures and environments at the same time. After all, a new generation is born, global. But this happens on condition that linguistic cultures are not initially hostile to each other. But this is a different question.
A bilingual child constantly translates words from the language that he knows worse to the one that gives better. Only those who speak only one language have this opinion. The fact is that all bilinguals can think in two languages, regardless of the situation or speech situation. If the matter concerns an English-speaking person, or a situation, an event took place in an English-speaking environment, then in order to understand this, the bilingual mentally resorts to the English language.
True bilingualism can be considered a state of affairs when words from one language do not mix with another. If this were the case, then there would be no question of any linguistic diversity in the world. After all, languages constantly penetrate each other, as a result of which the vocabulary is constantly enriched with new elements. Even the most inveterate monolinguals do not suspect that they use any words borrowed from other languages in their speech every day. Many of our "primordially Russian" words actually came at one time from other peoples. For example, the usual "pencil" and "barn" are actually of Turkic origin. But if a child from an early age is in a difficult environment for himself among languages alien to him, and even without a systemic education, then the speech development of a growing person is carried out spontaneously in a society like him. In this case, a person runs the risk of not learning a single language normally. Unfortunately, history knows many such examples.
Bilingualism is a fashionable entertainment exclusively for wealthy people. This myth is shared by most people who know one language. In fact, this picture of the world is wrong. After all, peoples are constantly migrating, and the general linguistic situation in the world today is such that the study of several languages is often a normal and necessary means of subsistence. In this case, the financial condition often does not play any role.
Knowledge of two languages will inevitably lead to a split personality. This opinion is controversial. All of us, including monolinguists, to some extent have a speech, and sometimes even a personality split. Consider the fact that monolinguists, at home and at work, communicate in two completely different varieties of the same language. It turns out that a person identifies himself in different ways, as a person, in a particular environment. However, this behavior is normal, there is no need to talk about such a complex mental illness as a split personality.
To grow up a bilingual, you must follow certain rules exactly. It is usually said that the use of a second language should be completely prohibited at home. After all, that one is intended exclusively for a different language environment. Another technique involves the indispensable use of two languages at home, even if the parents are not native speakers. As a result, many rules have been created, they are adjusted to a specific life situation. But you cannot follow strict canons, any rule can be broken, if necessary. It is better for a child to grow up in a friendly atmosphere, spontaneously switching from one language to another, rather than being forced and under pressure to follow the rules that parents have read somewhere. Nobody says that general patterns should be discarded altogether. They just should be indulged not so zealously as to disturb the psychological peace of the child and the whole family.
You can start learning a second language at the age of three or six. There is no difference, because by the age of 14, the level of language proficiency will become the same. In fact, this is the first, superficial glance. Practice shows that the earlier a child begins to learn a language, the larger his vocabulary will be. In this case, speech will be distinguished by confidence and a wider range of concepts used.
After being in a monolingual environment for three years, a child will never be able to become a bilingual. Recent research suggests that children who know two languages entered a bilingual language environment between the ages of birth and 11 years. But this indicator is very individual. It is necessary to take into account the circumstances of the life of each student. In addition, if the language, even if it is native, is not supported at all, if you do not have practice, then it will gradually degrade and wither away. As a result, any bilingual has every chance of transforming into a monolingual.
Bilingualism is just a pleasant exception, but monolinguals are the rule. There has never been an accurate count of the number of bilinguals in the world. It is quite clear that this is a rather complicated procedure from a practical point of view, and most likely it will never be carried out. But it is reasonable to assume that more than half of the world's population is bilingual. Most of those reading this text live in a country where monolingualism is the rule. But this sample of the world is highly unrepresentative. There are many places on the planet where people are forced to speak several languages; in the case of national minorities, the native language simply does not coincide with the state language.
Bilinguals make good translators. The profession of a translator is not as easy as it seems. It is not enough to know languages perfectly, you must also have some other qualities. Therefore, you should not automatically classify bilinguals as excellent translators. Their translations are often angular and inaccurate. The processing of a literary text is quite difficult, because it contains various syntactic constructions and stylistic coloring, there are nuances in the translation of political speeches and negotiations. After all, a lot of attention is paid to halftones and hints, and not every bilingual can realize this. But the profession of a guide-translator is much easier for such people to conquer. In the general case, everything depends on the individual characteristics of a person, the development of his speech and education.