Language alternation is a great approach to being bilingual

By Famworld
Language alternation is a great approach to being bilingual

Language alternation is a great approach to learning new languages. It involves alternating between two languages for a given period of time in order to promote language immersion and improve language skills. Here are some tips to get the most out of this method:

  1. Choose a partner language: Find a language partner who speaks the language you want to learn and who wants to learn your language. You can search for partners on online platforms dedicated to language exchange.

  1. Establish a regular schedule: Set a regular schedule for language switching. This could be daily or several times a week, depending on your availability.

  1. Create an immersion environment: Try to immerse yourself as much as possible in the language you are learning. Watch movies, listen to music, read books or articles in this language. The more exposure you have, the better you will assimilate the language.

  1. Use online tools: Many apps and online platforms offer features for language exchanges. You can use applications such as Tandem, HelloTalk, or Language Tandem in online forums.

  1. Be open to corrections: Accept corrections from your language partner. It is an important part of the learning process and will help you improve your language skills.

  1. Set goals: Set specific goals for each language alternation session. This could include learning new words, improving pronunciation, or practicing grammar.

  1. Be patient: Learning a new language takes time, and it's normal to make mistakes. Be patient with yourself and persevere in your practice.

  1. Diversify the activities: Vary the types of activities you do during your language alternation sessions. Spend time chatting, but also try role playing, watching videos, or even cooking using the language you are learning.

Individual bilingualism

What is individual bilingualism? Each of the researchers has their own idea on this issue. Some, like Leonard Bloomfield (American linguist), assert that bilingualism refers to the perfect mastery of a second language, as well as one's mother tongue. However, this is not very realistic, because only few people can be considered bilingual. This observation led to the proposal of a new definition. Bilinguals are those who have at least one linguistic skill (reading, writing, listening, speaking) in two different languages. For example :

∙ people who have oral ability in one language and written ability in another;

∙ those who speak two languages, but at different levels (and who cannot read or write one or the other);

∙ individuals who have mastery of both languages;

∙ those who understand a second language without speaking it;

∙ etc.

Bilingualism in a community

An individual does not become bilingual by chance, but because he wants to communicate with people who speak another language. To learn a language, it must be useful or adopted by the community with which you are in contact. The reasons are therefore social and economic.

For example, in Cameroon, most people know at least two languages. One is the main language and the other a lingua franca (Pidgin English) to facilitate commercial exchanges between ethnic groups. In many countries, those who practice intellectual activities tend to learn one or more foreign languages, such as English or French. What purpose ? They want to participate in international conferences, write or read documentation specific to their field, etc. These two cases correspond to social bilingualism.

The number of bilingual individuals is the main factor that determines whether a society is bilingual or not. For example, Catalonia (an autonomous community in northeastern Spain) is described as bilingual. Almost all its inhabitants know the native language (Catalan) and at the same time the official language (Spanish).

Early, late and compound bilingualism

Some people are exposed to two languages before the age of 3, while others only become bilingual during adulthood.

Early bilingualism

Bilingualism researchers agree that there is a period when acquiring a new language is easier. In the first three to five years of infancy, brain plasticity allows for rapid fixation of language skills. This is early bilingualism. Learning happens spontaneously. Grammar is internalized, and vocabulary is available effortlessly. Early bilingualism can be subdivided into two categories.

Simultaneous bilingualism is characterized by the development of two mother tongues in the child. This is the case of a little one whose parents each use a different language with him. This bilingualism can also be the result of a bilingual educational program. Successive bilingualism refers to the situation of a child who has already partially acquired a first language and learns a second language early in childhood. For example, he moves to an environment where the dominant language is not his mother tongue.

Late bilingualism

When the second language is acquired after the age of 6 or 7, and particularly during the adult period, it is late bilingualism. Contrary to popular belief, young children do not always have the advantage over adults when it comes to practicing a second language. It’s true that they learn a language faster. But adults have a greater attention span. Additionally, a late bilingual can use knowledge of the first language to develop the second.

Compound bilingualism

In compound bilingualism, the speaker is not able to detect the conceptual differences that exist between the two languages. This is often the case for children who develop two linguistic codes simultaneously, at a very young age. A typical situation of this type of bilingualism occurs when parents speak in two different languages at home (French for dad and English for mom)

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