|Living With Multilingualism|
This youtube video linked below discusses the benefits of being a bilingual child and the science behind it. Some of the benefits include:
I think this information is something teachers should acknowledge. These students are very bright. This connects to the Zawacki/Habib article as it brings up the idea that professors worry these students do not understand the material enough to even pass the course. All these facts demonstrate how intelligent bilingual students are. I think professors should be educated and informed on all this information. I feel like it would serve as incentive for professors to help ESL students even more. It demonstrates their maximum potential and capabilities. Currently, professors do not have the drive to assist ESL students with accommodations. Thus, providing factual information will demonstrate to the professors the idea behind bilingual students.
I grew up at Farsi being my first language. Then I learned English, before even entering the public school system. I was tested a few times in my early years as an ESL student but was then released from the program after proving my level of efficiency. Thus, I went through my education as a normal native-English speaker. Living near DC, my high school was filled with people who spoke all kinds of languages. My English teachers were sympathetic toward these ESL students, and never had them participate in ESL classes, but rather, were just given accommodations in our classes. Although I understand why the accommodations were given, I also understand why this can seem unfair to the other students.
My experiences can very much relation to those of Motoko Kainose in her classes at college. In relation to Kainose's sociology class, where the professor just tells the ESL students to not worry about their grammar within their papers. Kainose gives the ESL student’s perspective on receiving special treatment. She did not want the professor’s special treatment as he announced it in front of the entire class, which made Kainose feel a bit inferior. Thus, a teacher announcing an accommodation in front of the entire class does not only make ESL students feel inferior, but makes native English speakers feel as if ESL students are getting an unfair advantage. This is why teachers should privately talk to students who need accommodations to keep the emotions out of it.
Jared Diamond’s article titled “The Benefits of Multilingualism” dives into interesting evidence as for why multilingualism is more positive than it is negative for children. He claims recent studies have shown that children that are raised bilingually develop a cognitive benefit. Up to the 1960’s, research was showing that bilingual children learned language slower and had a smaller plethora of vocabulary compared to monolingual children. More recent students have shown both sets of children are similar in cognition and language processing. The argument is made that monolinguals only need to compare a word with a single stock of sound and meaning rules. On the other hand multilinguals switch frequently and unpredictably between multiple stocks of sounds and meaning rules. A study was done by giving subjects game like tasks designed to be confusing because the task rules change unpredictably. Monolinguals had a tougher time then bilinguals at accommodating to the switching rules throughout the study. This is considered a superior executive function. The results for the youngest and oldest subjects are of particular interest. Young infants learn to discriminate the sounds of the languages that are heard around them and learn to ignore distinctions not heard around them. Example are given of how Japanese infants lose, while English infants retain, ability to discriminate the consonants l and r. This is because the Japanese language does not distinguish these sounds. For the older age group, Diamond also argues that bilingualism can offer some form of ‘protection’ against symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the elderly. A study was done that looked at Canadian patients with a probably Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The bilingual patient showed their first symptoms at an age 5 years older than the monolingual patients. It is argued this is due to the “use it or lose it” saying. This means that bilinguals do extra exercise for their brain every minute of the day, because they’re constantly going back-and-forth between languages.
Source: Diamond, Jared. "The Benefits of Multilingualism." Science 330.6002 (2010). Washington DC:AAAS. 332-33. Print.
I had an interesting experience in an Uber a few days ago. None of the maps were picking up on the address I wanted to go to, so I had to direct the driver to the mall myself. He hardly spoke English, but was fluent in Italian. Luckily, I currently take Italian at Emory. Between his little English, my little Italian, and some hand gestures, we were able to make our way to the mall and discuss what living in Italy was like on the ride.
Toward the end of the reading we did in class, Vershawn Ashanti Young makes a very valid point regarding code meshing. It really is found everywhere. Young believes it “allow writers and speakers to bridge multiple codes” even though Fish states that languages are unmixable (71). I very much agree with Young, the idea that languages are not mixable is inaccurate. In my personal experience mentioned above, the mixing of Italian, English, and non verbal communication allowed for me to learn about my Uber driver’s home and for me to communication where I would like to go with my Uber driver.
Being a first generation American-Persian, I've had a bit of a different experience than most of the kids I grew up with. Growing up in a predominantly white, “family money” area, being the child of immigrants was a little bit different. In our home, my parents are constantly speaking to those around them, including myself, in Persian. Yet, I always choose to respond to them in English. Although I have a basic understanding of the Persian language, much of what I pick up on is based on inflections in their voices, their hand gestures, and the reactions of others. With my parents, they have the ability to converse with a mix of Persian and English, but my grandparents do not speak a word of English.
This is very similar to Rajani, in the Canagarajah reading, as she picks up on what her family is saying and responds in English. Both Rajani and her mother have a receptive competence in each other’s native tongues. Canagarajah points out that without this ability to converse, there would be serious consequences in terms of the ability to create family relationships. Personally, my relationship with my grandparents has enhanced my upbringing as I learned of and participated in many things that make up the Persian identity. We did not do this through verbal communication, but rather though a certain receptiveness that is based on “context, gestures, and objects in the setting”.
Welcome to my Blog! I will start posting in the next few days!
Anusheh Kafi, a freshman at Emory University
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