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Autor Tema: Bilingual children - travel broadens the language mind!  (Leído 598 veces)

Desconectado Mike

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Bilingual children - travel broadens the language mind!
« en: Julio 11, 2017, 07:02:08 pm »
What a deliciously rewarding break we had in the UK! A week of bright sunny weather with cloudless skies - not a drop of rain. Good hotels and warm, welcoming family company and excellent food.

Yet, I suppose one of the most inspiring memories of that idyllic stay was how my daughter opened up with the English language. Nobody would and should expect great linguistic advances over such a short stay but other unexpected advances did occur. Perhaps I could call them sociolinguistic. It's probably true to say that most families during the normal comings and goings of everyday life do not happen upon such large groups of "unknown" people with whom one has total trust. "Unknown", that is to my daughter (even though known about). I refer to her English family: aunts, uncles, cousins and a grandmother and other friends of the family, many of whom she met not for the first time but did not remember from her last visit when she was only two.

Carmen opened up in an extraordinary way. Using an English she had developed only through a relatively "private" and I consider staid linguistic relationship with me, her father, she was suddenly immersed in a world where all was in English and English was spoken by everybody around her. Carmen's natural open, inquisitive and highly sociable personality in Spanish with Spanish friends and family now blossomed again but was expressed entirely in English. She listened and chatted to everybody and was exposed to different ways of expression in English, different personalities and, very importantly, for the first time able to listen in to conversations among others and multiple participators in the same conversation. My daughter's natural Andalusian charm (I'd better tone down my desire for filial praise) and love of gregarianism meant that her engagement with others was multiplied. She was, I suppose, the star of the show - a sort of Andalusian Shirley Temple!

My objective appraisal here is the following. We tend, perhaps too much, to place great importance on vocabulary or structure knowledge when evaluating progress in a second language. But what about the development of exuberance, enthusiasm and increased naturalness in expression as a measurement? What about the ability to be able to laugh while you speak the L2 or even cry while you speak? Carmen was nipped by the family dog, which she wanted to cuddle too much - nothing at all serious, fortunately, but she explained the incident through her tears. Also, to learn how to joke in English. Carmen referred to the place we were staying, where they had a lovely black labrador, as a "hotel". I corrected her and said it was called a Bed and Breakfast. Carmen then corrected me and said it should be a Bed, Dog and Breakfast! Well, it made me laugh!

To sum up, Carmen came away from that experience with a bountiful chatty English which I hope she will be able to retain now we're back in the comparatively monotonous father-daughter linguistic relationship once again. A common saying in English is that "travel broadens the mind". I would add that travel also broadens the language mind in ways that no intensive B1/B2 classroom-based English course could ever do.

Mike. (Father of 8-year-old bilingual)  ;D
« Última modificación: Julio 11, 2017, 07:56:17 pm por Mike »


Desconectado Raquel

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Re:Bilingual children - travel broadens the language mind!
« Respuesta #1 en: Julio 18, 2017, 11:56:21 am »
This is great news, Mike!! I'm so glad for you, and for Carmen too!!

But what about the development of exuberance, enthusiasm and increased naturalness in expression as a measurement? What about the ability to be able to laugh while you speak the L2 or even cry while you speak?
That's key. I think Carmen kind of discovered that English wasn't just something 'dad' insisted on speaking, but something useful to her when wanting to communicate with a lot of other people. This very same thing is what made me develop an interest in languages and there's nothing like being interested in something to learn it better and quicker ;)
« Última modificación: Julio 20, 2017, 12:01:30 pm por Raquel »

Desconectado Mike

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Re:Bilingual children - travel broadens the language mind!
« Respuesta #2 en: Julio 20, 2017, 10:41:09 am »
Thanks for that, Raquel.

Yes, that "interest" seems to have the effect of boosting language production and how the language is used. Carmen, seems to be using lengthier conversation turns now. She appears to be digging deeper into her language resources to express her ideas in English. All this must be conducive to improved language knowledge in general.

Mike  :)

Desconectado Raquel

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Re:Bilingual children - travel broadens the language mind!
« Respuesta #3 en: Julio 20, 2017, 12:02:40 pm »
Thanks for that, Raquel.

Yes, that "interest" seems to have the effect of boosting language production and how the language is used. Carmen, seems to be using lengthier conversation turns now. She appears to be digging deeper into her language resources to express her ideas in English.
That's awesome!! Can I say I'm very envious? But in a good way ;)

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All this must be conducive to improved language knowledge in general.
Definitely!!

Desconectado Mike

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Re:Bilingual children - travel broadens the language mind!
« Respuesta #4 en: Julio 24, 2017, 03:25:11 pm »
Of course, I must add (and sometines I forget this obvious fact) that Carmen is getting older (she's 8 now) and more mature. Maturity will undoubtedly have an effect on language behaviour: longer sentences, vocabulary chosen more selectively etc.

Your "envy" will turn to pride when you hear your own children express themselves in English when they are older; an English which is more sophisticated simply because their minds are likewise.

Mike

Desconectado Raquel

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Re:Bilingual children - travel broadens the language mind!
« Respuesta #5 en: Julio 24, 2017, 07:52:06 pm »
Very true, Mike; I must remember it myself too!! But don't sell her too short either; it isn't just that she's older, but also that something clicked in her mind when she needed to use English. She could have just gotten by speaking the way she did before, but she realized English was useful and made the effort to improve hers in order to communicate better... I'm not saying she did it consciously, but she did it all the same.


 

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