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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-15-11 06:03 PM
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learning a new language
"through" your 2nd language...

For example - say my son is a native English speaker. He knows Chinese. Then he wants to learn - say - French. What would happen if he learned French using Chinese as the "anchor" language.

Or say my other son - who is a native English speaker - is fluent in Spanish through an immersion school - goes to learn his 3rd language. What would be the advantages/disadvantages of trying to advocate for the schools to offer this "third language" using Spanish as the "home" language.

Note - this came about because my oldest son (in example one) is learning French through an online school program. He went to type in the answer in French and was surprised to read that he'd answered in Chinese pin yin!! Discussion ensued over the scenario described...

my younger son (example two) - is currently in a middle school immersion program. Our district is in the process of developing a "dual-language" high-school program. He's very eager to tackle learning additional languages, and I'd like to approach the committee developing the program about this idea of using Spanish as the "home" language.

So - what I'm wondering is if anyone has any information/experience with this. Would it be beneficial? If so, what documentation/studies are out there I could provide the committee for their use?
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-15-11 08:02 PM
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1. One problem that might come up in trying
to learn the new language through his second language, is going to be just how fluent he is in that second language. If he's extremely fluent, he'll probably do just fine.

However, French is a whole lot closer to English than is Chinese, so I'm thinking it would be easier to learn French from English, because grammar and vocabulary have a lot in common.

In general, once you've learned one foreign language, the subsequent ones are much easier, because your brain has already been stretched. In this case, your son is already learning a language very different from his native language, which is already stretching his brain a lot more than learning a more similar one.

I don't know of any actual research connected to your question, but I've read lots of stuff about learning languages over the years, and it seems as if there's no practical limit to the number of languages any one person can learn, other than practical time constraints. If your sons learn two "foreign" languages this early, they will find it very easy to learn as many as they want to.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-19-11 09:44 AM
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2. This is a rare situation, but when I taught Japanese, I had students
from China, Korea, and Malaysia in my classes. They seemed to do just fine, but their English was VERY good.
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