Learning a new language

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Learning a new language

So when a child is learning two languages the parents should expect developmental errors. These are errors that also children learning English as the only language make, like things like saying, "I breaked the window." These are normal and there's no problem with them it's just something that arises out of the natural learning process. Also there will be transfer errors. These are errors that arise out of the influence of one language on the other. So children can say maybe a word in English with a sound from Italian in it or they can use word order from Italian in an English sentence, etcetera. Like my daughter used to say, "I like flowers purple." There's also language mixing. This is when children are borrowing elements from one language and inserting it in English and this often happens when children have vocabulary gaps in one language and they're borrowing from the other. And finally, there is the often or sometimes the refusal to use one language and basically they use of the other language at all times. This could happen because the child hasn't had many opportunities to practice the other language and maybe doesn't feel confident enough or doesn't have enough proficiency. And it could also be because parents have not been enforcing this other language enough.

See Simona Montanari, PhD's video on Learning a new language...


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Simona Montanari, PhD


Simona Montanari is Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on language development and second language acquisition in childhood. She received a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Southern California specializing in language development in monolingual and multilingual children. Dr. Montanari has published her research in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and she is regularly invited to present on early bilingualism and trilingualism locally and internationally. Dr. Montanari has also been involved in the creation and implementation of an Italian-English dual language program in the Glendale Unified School District, for which she continues to work as a consultant. Dr. Montanari has two trilingual and tri-literate daughters, six and seven years of age.

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