Bilingualism is a complex term as it is affected by various factors including the age when the second language is learned, constant exposure to the native language, proficiency in each language, and the exact situation and experience when each language is acquired. However, it can be simply defined as ‘knowing’ two languages (Gottardo & Grant, 2008).
Bilingualism could occur by either simultaneous acquisition or successive acquisition of the second language. For instance, if a child who is 3 years old or younger is exposed to two languages then simultaneous acquisition usually occurs. One the other hand, if the child is older when exposed to the second language then successive acquisition generally occurs (National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning, 1995). Learning a second language is better when it starts at an earlier age (Petitto, 2009). Researchers have consistently suggested that when the second language is learned after puberty the proficiency is dramatically less. However, children who become bilingual at a later age achieve proficiency in the second language (Pettito & Dunbar, 2004).
Bilingualism is very common in various countries around world. For instance, in Spain, children often speak Spanish as well as Catalan; in the Andes, children learn Quechua and Spanish; and in India their official language is Hindi and their secondary official language is English. Many children are multilingual. However, research shows that U.S is the only exception of successfully raising their children to be bilingual because most children become English-dominant overtime and even monolingual in English (King & Fogle, 2006).
In the past, many teachers in the U.S. used to advise parents of immigrants not to raise their child to be bilingual, as they believed it will negatively affect their ability to learn English. Traditionally, many educators think of children with a mother language other than English as deficient (King & Fogle, 2006). In addition, parents might stop bilingualism efforts because children’s native language is not valued in American public schools. Current literature suggests that it is very important to provide services to children with limited English-speaking families in their native language especially when working with children with disabilities (Hardin et al., 2009). Additionally, research indicates that beliefs and attitudes of parents are very important factors that could help children become bilingual (King ; Fogle, 2006).
More than 50% of the people around the world are bilinguals. However, there are four types of bilingualism; infancy bilingualism, childhood bilingualism, adolescence bilingualism, and adulthood bilingualism. (Fabbro, 2003) What we will focus on is; Childhood bilingualism which refers to the development of learning multiple languages in childhood. Bilingual children are classified into two groups; the first one called ‘simultaneous bilinguals’. Simultaneous means “at the same time”. Some children have parents from different countries, those children have to acquire both languages. We can define them as “children who learn more than one language at the same time from earliest childhood”.
Children will succeed in acquire both languages when their parents are fluent in both languages and they have to use them both fairly. The other group called “successive bilingualism” or “sequential bilingualism” in this type, parents decide to initiate the first basis of knowledge in the first language in their child. As a result, the child will be able to communicate with other people by using the first language in a successful way. After that, the parents start teaching their child the second language; in this way, the child will focus on the second language and excels in it. (Sander, 2009)
Moreover, many factors will give rise to “bilingualism” for example when a child exposed and interact with many languages at the same time he will normally get them both and interact.
Speaking more than language in this world is possible specially if the child live with two different spoken language, so it but it does give a good proof to show the experts that the human brain have the capacity and the ability to acquire more than one language and interact with them at the same time. In addition, it can not be taken for granted, like those who live in environment with two languages does not mean that they are bilingualism.
For it is importance a University of Miami Bilingualism studied 25 babies before they born until 3 years and they and they collected every single word from the 25 babies, and that lead them to found that some of the children started to avoid using the second language; cause they do not feel comfortable to be remarked by the nationality of their parents and, they were 6 of 25 of the children or 25%.
To describe what was happening at that experiment here I will talk about three main factors the influenced the children such as input, Community factors and language state.
Input, children usually do not feel comfortable if they did not use the local language in their community, but they acquire their first language with parents, brothers and sisters. Between all the factors parents have the most control over tier children language ; that is, “a relatively direct relationship up to a certain point, what some have called a “critical mass,” after which, more exposure does not matter” (1)
“Forty percent of the world’s populations speak one (or more) of 8 major languages; 80% speak 1 or more of only 83 languages, a small fraction of the more than 6,000 languages catalogued in Ethnologue (Gordon, 2005). Thus, the shift to the major languages is very strong (and not of recent origin). Inertia now does the work of Pearson: Social factors in childhood bilingualism in the United States “(2)
So that language that it move to children and they use it called “vigorous” according to (Gorden, 2005)
It shows that science or scientific pathway is the only way to preserve these languages that shows that they will die.
Language background knowledge can been seen when the he preferred to speak the language of the minority in which he lived and interacted more than the language of the majority with which he lived, showing his good proficiency in the language and what proved to the children living in Mexico that they were very strongly speaking the English language despite their proficiency in the Mexican language, even when the students set in the lunchroom at the school they keep using the English language.