The Effects of Social Context on Bilingualism and Language Acquisition

1796 Words Aug 14th, 2010 8 Pages
How does the social context affect the rate of language development?

Suppose we have two children. Child A is an American child in a Spanish-speaking environment. He lives with his parents, both of whom are of American roots trying to adjust and cope with a language unfamiliar to them. None of them have sufficient knowledge in Spanish to be able to converse effectively with their neighbors. Child B, on the other hand, is an American child living in an English-speaking environment. He, like Child A, also lives with his parents, who are also both English-speaking and of American descent. Let us compare their situations, and figure out who will most likely be the first to acquire bilingualism.
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At seven years and a month old, Hildegard continues to speak German to her father, but because of the demands of living in an English-speaking environment, the dominance of English began to become apparent once again. Sometimes when Hildegard would speak in German with Leopold, he would notice that somewhere in the middle of their conversation, she would halt, and switch instead to English. This continued on until Hildegard was fourteen, and due to lack of exposure to the German language, her linguistic ability in German began to wane.

From Hildegard’s case we could clearly see the effect of the social context on the development of both her languages. The shifts from English to German and vice versa because of the change of environment made the message of social context clear: that it does indeed affect the rate of language development.

When Child A is exposed to a language more often than Child B, it can easily be guaranteed that Child A will learn the language in less time than it will take Child B. The same is true for adults. For example, American citizens to come to the Philippines and stay for about a year or so will find it difficult not to acquire Filipino words and their correct usage. Perhaps those who are able to quickly grasp the linguistic system of the Filipino language may even learn the language in a year and learn to speak like a native does. It’s

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