Major

Communicative Disorders

Advisor

Kovarsky, Dana

Advisor Department

Communicative Disorders

Date

5-2017

Keywords

Bilingual; Spanish; Children; Speech pathology; Family; Second language

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Abstract

Bilingualism is the ability to speak more than one language fluently. People of all ages may aspire to learn a second or third language in order to fulfill both personal goals and communicate with a variety of people in different contexts. Irrespective of one’s walk of life or socioeconomic status, being bilingual is a valuable skill. Although English is the language of power in the United States, there are hundreds of other languages spoken in this country.

There are a number of different ways in which children can become bilingual. For example, they may enter the school system speaking the native language of their home and then learn English as a second language. In contrast, other children may acquire both languages simultaneously at an early age. Caregivers face a variety of choices with respect to how to raise a child to be bilingual: whether to start at an early age or to wait until a child has gained more competence in their primary language. Some data argue that it is easier for children to acquire languages when they are younger rather than older.

Throughout the course of my honors project, I wrote a two-part book about children in bilingual families. The first part is meant for parents to read with their children. It chronicles the life of an 8-year-old girl named Marta, who is bilingual in English and Spanish. The story highlights the advantages and challenges of growing up bilingual. Each passage of this section is written in English at the top of the page and Spanish at the bottom. I chose to translate the book into Spanish due to the high number of Americans in the United States who speak Spanish. Part two of the book provides parents with useful information about raising children to be bilingual. This includes not only common features of second language acquisition, but also a variety of contexts in which children might become bilingual.

Overall, the intent of the book is to provide an enjoyable story that connects children and families to the bilingual experience, and to offer caregivers useful information regarding how dual language acquisition takes place in children. I hope that this book will serve as a useful tool for parents throughout their journey in raising bilingual children.