Language acquisition

As a linguist interested in first and second language acquisition, I’m in a very privileged position of bringing up a child in a bilingual environment.  I’ve been listening to the language acquisition with great interest (I should really note down more examples though). I only wish that I were able to record more of the speech and write a PhD on it.

I’ve noticed that the little one seems to favour one particular preposition (on at the moment) and uses this whenever a preposition is needed. He uses the preposition in the correct place (e.g. I’m on the bath; Teddy’s on the kitchen…), he just doesn’t vary it. I’ve also noticed that he misses out certain prepositions (mainly with  -I playing Grandma), although the rest of the utterance is accurate. I find this particularly interesting as many of my students find prepositions and choosing the correct one quite challenging. To be honest it’s also something I’m not sure about when I speak French and German and often hesitate, asking myself which one I should use (a fatal move: my instinct has usually chosen the correct one and pausing puts me off!). I wonder if this is because the prepositions aren’t key to the message, in most places, as the context supplies the meaning – in the case of first language acquisition, in second it might be more complex.

I’ve also noticed that he inverts nouns and adjectives (e.g. banana yellow). He doesn’t do this all the time, just on occasion. I wonder if this is the influence of the ‘second’ language  (Arabic), or just a normal part of acquisition, as with the generalisation of grammatical patterns (e.g. feets, sheeps – I’m getting quite a lot of that as well at the moment). It would be interesting to be able to study this further and see if languages bi-, or multi-, lingual children learn influence each other and if so to what extent.




About sarahali

I am linguist working in the EFL field. I started my teaching career in East Germany in 1997, continuing for a while (7 years) in Austria before settling back in the UK, where I am now based. I have taught English in various forms (ESP, ESOL, Business English, EFL (general) and EAP) to students ranging from 3 years of age to 80. I have written, developed and edited teaching material and curricular for the Arabic speaking world, as well as African countries. I have also written materials and teacher's books for 3-year olds learning in multi-lingual schools in Spain and have worked on translating and adapting Early Readers for the international market. I'm currently a senior tutor for EAP, a TEL coordinator and an academic proofreader. I also work as a freelance materials writer and developer. I speak English, German and French, with a basic knowledge of Arabic and Spanish.
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