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An Integrated Approach to Child Bilingualism
De Souza, Jose Pinheiro
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The present study is intended as a threefold contribution: (1) to the field of language acquisition in general; (2) to the particular field of child bilingualism, and (3) to the field of general linguistics.
The focus of the work is on the description of child bilingualism, especially the phenomenon of cross-influence between L1 and L2, and more particularly the influence of L2 on L1.
The analysis is based on data collected from Brazilian children in their process of acquiring and using Portuguese as their first language and English as their second language.
The study is approached from an integrated view of human language, its analysis, acquisition and use. In this sense, a state-of-the-art summary of the main currents in the field is provided, and a new way of viewing linguistic competence is proposed. It is argued that the notion of 'integrated linguistic competence' is more adequate than the other notions of competence found in current literature because it can fit any description of human language (including analyses of child language and of bilingualism), while the other views of linguistic competence can fit only partial aspects of language description.
The cross-influence between L1 and L2 has been investigated along the first twenty-four months of the subjects' being in the USA. Three stages of cross-influence have been identified: Stage I (months 1-8), the period in which the influence of L1 on L2 is more transparent than the influence of L2 on L1, Stage II (months 9-16), when L2 dominates L1, and Stage III (months 17-24), the period in which the L1 influence on L2 is almost nil, and the L2 influence on L1 is less transparent than in Stage II.
The interaction between L1 and L2 has been examined in terms of language transfer, code-switching, and code-mixing. The phenomenon of language interference has been described in all levels of linguistic analysis, viz.: the phonetic/phonological, the morpho-syntactic, the lexical, and the semantic/pragmatic.