Sunday, June 04, 2006

I think it's a good idea--but what does the research say?

Here's what I'm doing to learn more about bilingualism and second language (L2) acquisition in infants and children:

1. Blog searches for anecdotal evidence: My searches through this Blogger site have turned up thousands of blog entries about the topic. After looking through the first 500+ results, I determined that most of them weren't too relevant. (For example, a search for "French children bilingual" turned up a message about a bilingual waiter who brought French fries to the writer's children.) Many are about current controversies about bilingual education in the US and Canada--less relevant to what I'm writing about. What I was particularly interested in finding were blogs by parents raising their kids bilingually, and quite a few did turn up; many of these, however, don't seem to post regularly about their children's language acquisition process. Some do, though, and I've taken note of them and will list them here soon. What I did discover, though, is that so far I'm the only aunt with a bilingual baby blog out in cyberspace!

2. Websites for parents of bilingual kids: I have found some sites that look like practical, well-informed resources for parents of bilingual children. When I've examined them more carefully, I'll add them to the list of links in the margin.

3. Interviews: Well, conversations with friends and colleagues who are raising their children with more than one language aren't really "interviews" per se, but I'm definitely going to pay attention to what language teachers do with their own kids. Many of my colleagues in the foreign language department are either from other countries or married to people from other countries, which means that the couples have had to decide which language(s) to use with their children; most of them have used both to some degree. I respect their choices and I think they know what they're doing. Perhaps I can convince some of these teachers to write in here and share their strategies and rationales!

4. Library research: Maybe I'm just a masochist, but I always did enjoy library research and writing papers. I still do some of that these days, even though I'm not required to publish anything for my teaching job. While I'm very interested in hearing about what real people are doing with their bilingual children, I also want to know why and how it works (and why it doesn't when it doesn't)--what does second language acquisition theory have to say about teaching the L2 to infants and children? So I recently borrowed a dozen or so books from the university library, some qualitative case studies (i.e. how one child learned an L2 over the course of his childhood), some quantitative and theory-based, some handbooks for parents. As I go through those I'll report back here with my impressions and questions. This blog may end up looking like an annotated bibliography of my research crossed with my journal about babysitting my nephew!

5. Conferences: As a French teacher, I present at one or two language conferences a year. Typically I gravitate towards sessions about techniques for teaching older learners. But now, I'm also going to seek out information about languages and children. And the next one is in July--a four-day conference of nothing but French teachers! I plan on picking people's brains about materials to use with children learning French--books, songs, websites, and so on.

Let me know if you can think of anywhere else to look for more information, please!

1 comment:

  1. wow, you sound thorough. glad someone's doing the legwork for me. ;) looking forward to seeing the vetted resources.