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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 54
Author: Dr Ana Mantilla Executive Assistant Centre for EC Futures Australian Catholic University Learning More than One Language as a Young Child: the misconceptions versus the real advantages 16 I have a five year old son who is chatty with close friends but otherwise a quiet, reserved child. Having completed a doctoral thesis in second language learning in early childhood, I find it fascinating that many well intentioned friends and relatives, educators and medical practitioners seem to feel that my son's reserved demeanour is a language issue caused by the fact that he speaks two languages. The question that I often hear is, "Does he speak English?" And, to clarify, he does, he has been learning Spanish (at home with my husband and me) and English (at child care, kindergarten, everywhere else really) simultaneously from birth, and is fluent in both languages. It is clear to those of us who are part of his privileged circle that the issue here is not language. It seems then that what is hidden behind the question asked can be the preconceived idea that his quietness is due to bilingualism. So, my hope with this article is to discuss why words like 'silence', 'confusion', and 'delay' should not be associated with bi(multi) lingualism and to focus on explaining the multiple positive advantages associated with learning more than one language from an early age. My aim - as a passionate language advocate - is to reach families who are raising bi(multi)lingual children, and encourage monolingual families and educators (in early childhood and beyond) to recognise the value of second language teaching and learning.
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014