1 Brain 2 Languages
Ever wonder how the brain works? How do we learn. My parents are from Haiti and France and growing up, they spoke French and Creole. English was their third language, well second as creole is almost like the broken French however back on track when my parents speak it sounds like English in my head. Although I know they are not speaking English it somehow plays in my mind as English. The other day, my mother was speaking to me and my children, she asked me a question in French and I answered in English. My daughter said how do you know what she said. I said what do you mean she said it in English. After everyone laughed I really thought about it and the question is how is it possible to know two languages without a lesson ever?
I googled it! According to Journal of Child Language, languages can be learned simultaneously. They studied how after the first year of birth the child learns both languages and also learns how to tell the difference between the two languages. It seems that it’s a mix of code mix and language dominance that cause children to learn and speak two languages. In search of more information I found a journal by Ayeomni, M.O that discussed code switching and code mixing. He discusses the difference between the two, “Code-switching is the mixing of words, phrases and sentences from two distinct grammatical (sub) systems across sentence boundaries within the same speech event… code-mixing is the embedding of various linguistic units such as affixes (bound morphemes), words (unbound morphemes), phrases and clauses from a co-operative activity where the participants, in order to infer what is intended, must reconcile what they hear with what they understand.” (Ayeomni, M.O, 2006)
With that I gather that children are able to learn both because they are being introduced to both languages during their early development years. I have a three-year-old and I am trying to speak French with him to see if this works. So far, he responds to some words and others he doesn’t. I’ll keep you posted with progress.