All or more languages simultaneously, and learning a

All experiences leave their mark –
they change how we respond to a similar situation in the future, create
knowledge or expertise in particular areas, a change we usually call
“learning,” and as it is increasingly becoming apparent, change our brains. It
follows, then, that experience has great potential for explaining the way that
basic cognitive abilities develop, function, and change throughout the life
span. In the vast majority of cases, individuals become bilingual through life
circumstances (Bialystok, 2011). By definition, a dual language learner (DLL) is
someone who is acquiring two or more languages simultaneously, and learning a
second language while continuing to develop his or her first language (U. S. Department
of Health and Human Services, 2008). In this literature review I will present
bilingual children over four aspects of psychology: Developmental, Cognitive,
Social and Emotional psychology.

 

Developmental
Psychology

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Children’s development is the result of
bidirectional interactions within various cultural contexts, and posits that
the quality of language interactions within those contexts, as well as the
amount of exposure to the home language (L1) and the secondary language (L2),
constitute unique experiences for the development of DLL’s compared to
monolinguals (Halle, 2014). Timing of bilingual exposure impacts bilingual
development. With relatively equal exposure to both languages, typically
developing (TD) students simultaneous bilinguals (exposed to both languages
before 3 years of age) are reported to achieve language milestones at roughly
similar ages as monolingual children and demonstrate differentiated and
language-appropriate morpho-syntactic development (De Houwer, 2009).  TD sequential bilinguals, exposed to a
second language after three years, require time for their L2 abilities to catch
up to those of same-age monolingual peers acquiring the same languages; and, in
fact, they may never achieve parity with monolingual native speakers
(Abrahamsson & Hyltenstam, 2009). According to Cummins (2008), with
consistent and intense exposure, TD sequential bilingual children require
approximately two years for their functional conversational skills in the L2 to
reach the same levels achieved by same-age monolingual peers and five to seven
years for their academic language abilities to be comparable. L2 learners tend
to achieve higher levels of proficiency in their L2 if they are exposed earlier
in childhood rather than later or in adulthood (Baker, 2011). However, age
effects are, in part, attributable to differences in the length of time and the
amount and quality of L2 exposure in younger versus older L2 learners
(Marinova-Todd, Marshall, & Snow, 2000). Further, earlier exposure is not
always beneficial when L2 learning takes place primarily in school settings
(Genesee, 2014).

 

Cognitive Psychology

Executive functioning is an umbrella
term for a set of higher-order cognitive skills that help monitor and control
thoughts and behavior (White & Greenfield, 2017). The main empirical finding
for the effect of bilingualism on cognition is in the evidence for enhanced
executive control in bilingual speakers (Bialystok, Craik, Green, & Gollan,
2009). These effects have been found at all stages across the life span. It is
postulated that the executive control system, associated with such behaviors as
planning, initiation of activity, mental flexibility and self-monitoring, is
the cognitive mechanism that influences linguistic processing in bilingual
children (Bialystok, 2011). Bilingual advantages have been reported across a
variety of domains, for example, creativity (Kessler & Quinn, 1987),
problem solving (Kessler & Quinn, 1980), and perceptual dis embedding
(Duncan & De Avila, 1979).

Why would bilingualism enhance the
development of children’s control processes? Evidence from psycholinguistic
studies of adult language processing shows that the two languages of a
bilingual remain constantly active while processing is carried out in one of
them (Gollan & Kroll, 2001). The joint activity of the two systems requires
a mechanism for keeping the languages separate so that fluent performance can
be achieved without intrusions from the unwanted language (Bialystok, Craik, Klein &
Viswanathan, 2004). Finding from Studies that were investigate the relation
between DLL’s intelligence and processing speed, In overall showed, that there
were no differences between monolinguals and DLLs on measures on intelligence
(Bialystok & Martin, 2004) and on speed processing (Barac & Bialystok,
2012). An important finding is that bilingualism benefits were documented in
theory of mind and executive control regardless of the language combinations
children were exposed to or spoke (Goetz,2003). This suggests that it is the
cognitive exercise of managing two linguistic systems, rather than the specific
relationship or typological distance between the two languages that leads to
consequences for cognitive development (Barac, Bialystok, Castro & Sanchez,
2014).

 

Social –
Emotional Psychology

Acquiring language is an act of “becoming a
person” and a member of a particular society, as language conveys important
cultural norms (Nelson, 2003). Thus, a child who is learning two languages may
need to negotiate between two competing sets of cultural expectations that have
distinctive goals for behavior relevant to social–emotional development (Halle,
2014). The development of social and emotional of the child’s includes several
key components as societal, community, and family contexts; early care and
education contexts; and child characteristics which are required for the
understanding of the whole picture.  I
reviewed few of them; in a study linking the quality of the attachment
relationship to later English and Spanish oral language skills, Findings
suggest that children’s relationships with parents and teachers significantly
contribute to their bilingual skills. Higher quality teacher-child
relationships were associated with higher of language skills over and above
quality parental attachment (Oades-Sese and Li, 2011; Luchtel, Hughes, Luze, Bruna,
& Peterson, 2010). Given the extant literature suggesting the importance of
peer relationships for children’s positive development (Downer & Pianta,
2006), surprisingly little is known about the quality of peer relationships of
DLLs (Halle, 2014). What little research there is suggests that the quality of
peer relationships maybe affected by a child’s dual language learner status.
For example, some dual language learners enter a non-verbal stage of second
language development (Tabors, 2008) and peers may misinterpret their silence as
being shy or disengaged with the activities around them (Restrepo, 2008). Peers
may also ignore or exclude a dual language learning classmate who does not use
normal verbal cues (Halle, 2014). 

A set of researches described at Halle’s
(2014) review, described several widely recognized dimensions of children’s
social–emotional development: self-regulation, social competence, social
cognition, and problem behaviors. It suggested that young DLL’s have at least equal
(if not better) social–emotional outcomes compared to native English
monolingual speakers. For example, Han (2010) noted that fluent bilingual
Latino children had higher levels of self-control than native English speakers
at kindergarten entry and they also had faster growth in self-control through
fifth grade. Luchtel et al. (2010) found that pre-kindergarten teachers
reported DLL’s displayed less frequent and less severe negative behaviors than
their monolingual English peaking peers.

Conclusion
and further researches

In the
increasingly globalized context of the 21st century, the need for and the
benefits associated with knowledge of additional languages are
increasing. On the one hand, a growing number of parents are actively seeking
ways of giving their children the bilingual skills that they perceive will
benefit them by providing additional personal and professional opportunities.
On the other hand, extensive international migration of people from one
language community to another means that the number of individuals and, in
particular, children who need skills in more than one language is growing
(Bird, Genesee & Verhoeven, 2016). Consider this, together with the
growing challenges of the developing world, to my opinion, bilingual children
should be on the focus of the research, specifically children with
developmental delays so it can address development from multiple perspectives.