Bilingual Learning for Second and Third Generation Children

Kenner, Charmian and Gregory, Eve and Ruby, Mahera and Al-Azami, Salman (2008) Bilingual Learning for Second and Third Generation Children. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 21 (2). pp. 120-137. ISSN 0790-8318

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Throughout the English-speaking world, children from bilingual backgrounds are being educated in mainstream classrooms where they have little or no opportunity to use their mother tongue. Second and third generation children, in particular, are assumed to be learning sufficiently through English only. This study investigated how British Bangladeshi children, learning Bengali in after-school classes but mostly more fluent in English than in their mother tongue, responded when able to use their full language repertoire within the mainstream curriculum. Through action research with mainstream and community language class teachers, bilingual literacy and numeracy tasks were devised and carried out with pupils aged seven to eleven in two East London primary schools. The bilingual activities were video-recorded and analysed qualitatively to identify the strategies used. The following cognitive and cultural benefits of bilingual learning discovered by researchers in other contexts were also found to apply in this particular setting: conceptual transfer, enriched understanding through translation, metalinguistic awareness, bicultural knowledge and building bilingual learner identities. The findings suggest that second and third generation children should be enabled to learn bilingually, and appropriate strategies are put forward for use in the mainstream classroom.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: England, Bengali, primary school, bilingual learning, cultural content, language and cognition
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PK Indo-Iranian
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > English
Depositing User: Susan Murray
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2014 09:52
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2014 09:52

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