Episode 33: 4 Common phenomena that children may experience when learning a second language

4 Common Phenomena that children may experience when learning a second language

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Dr. Alejandro Brice, a bilingual speech-language pathology researcher and a Professor at the University of South Florida.  Dr. Brice discusses with us four common phenomena that children may experience when learning a second language including interference, the silent period, code switching, and language loss.

Dr.  Brice is a bilingual speech-language pathology researcher and a Professor at the University of South Florida.  His research interests include bilingual language issues, language learning disabilities, bilingual education, school classroom instruction and speech-language pathology.  Dr. Brice has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction along with several degrees in multicultural education and speech language pathology.

Episode #33 Quick Guide:

On this episode, Dr. Brice discusses with us:

  • His journey with languages starting with his first few years of life in Cuba and his introduction to English when he started Kindergarten;
  • His family’s strategy to speak Spanish in the home and English outside the home;
  • How the ability to use his language skills attracted him to work as a speech language pathologist;
  • Four common phenomena that children may experience when learning a second-language:
    • Interference:  The influence a first language may have upon learning the grammar and vocabulary of a second language.
    • Silent Period:  The period when individuals are not expressing themselves while learning a second language and are instead taking in the linguistic information before beginning their communication.
    • Code Switching: Occurs when multilingual individuals change languages over phrases and/or sentences.   This is not an indication of a disability or confusion.
    • Language Loss: Occurs when an individual begins to lose skills and fluency in one language while learning the other.  To avoid language loss, Dr. Brice recommends presenting children with exposure and opportunities to use the language at risk.
  • His advice for parents with children learning a second language :
    • Establish a solid foundation at home with the  first language so children can then transfer strong skills to the second language;
    • Make the environment comfortable for children to express themselves;
    • Provide enough language exposure so that your child can get enough rich input in each of their languages.

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