EDPROFST 226: Introduction to Bilingualism and Bilingual Immersion Education
In his book, Language, Power and Pedagogy: bilingual children in the crossfire, Cummins (2000) tells a story of a bilingual Mexican mother who was ordered by a judge to stop speaking Spanish to her daughter during a custody dispute with her husband. The judge’s view was that the mother was ‘abusing’ her daughter by speaking Spanish in their home (p.13). Unfortunately the judge is not alone in his opinion in regards to second language acquisition and bilingualism. Nor is the context of America and the minority language of Spanish different from the New Zealand context in the way that minority ...view middle of the document...
Bilingualism is difficult to define because ‘bilingualism is an extremely complex phenomenon – one that may vary widely among individuals, and even within individuals with respect to the languages concerned’ (May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p.8). Early definitions of bilingualism ranged from being able to ‘produce meaningful utterances (however limited) in the other language’ (Haugen, 1953 in May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p.10) to bilingualism as ‘native like control of two languages’ (Bloomfield, 1935: 56 in May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p.10). Much of this research looked at bilingualism from a deficit point of view ‘bilingualism was seen as being atypical, while monolingualism was regarded as the norm’ (May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p.36). More recent research has highlighted different forms of bilingualism including: Passive bilinguals who understand but do not speak another language, Active bilinguals who are speakers, and often, readers and writers (McCaffery, 2010). Bilingual is usually a term that is associated with the ability to be fluent in two languages however the term is used differently depending on the context. In an educational context Gibbons (1991) uses the term bilingual to ‘reflect the reality that second language learners are operating in two language domains’ (p.1) to avoid deficit labelling and focus attention on the ‘potential language skills of these children’ (p.1).
Key theories: SUP vs CUP, Interdependence Hypothesis and Threshold Theory.
Separate Underlying Proficiency or SUP was used to support much of the early research about bilingualism. Baker and Prys Jones (1998 in May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p.37) explain that is the view of the mind as having two balloons within which languages are stored separately. As well as being separate the balloons also have limited storage capacity and therefore work against one another competing for space. This model is now outdated as recent research (post 1960) revealed that acquisition of a second language increases a child’s knowledge of language, ‘when children continue to develop their abilities in two or more languages throughout their primary school years, they gain deeper understanding of language and how to use it effectively’ (Cummins, 2002:61 in May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p.37).
Common Underlying Proficiency or CUP also known, as the Iceberg Analogy is a theory introduced by Vygotsky and later developed by Cummins (1980). It separates the two languages on the surface but underneath the languages are joined because they do not function separately from one another. Both languages make a contribution through access and usage through one processing system (May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p.37). Baker (2001 p.165-166 in May, Hill, Tiakiwai, 2004, p. 37) summarises the CUP model of Bilingualism into six parts including, one integrated source of thought irrespective of the language the person is using. People can store and function in two or more languages with...