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Bilingualism and Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Authors:

Dunya Martínez Fortuny
  • Instructor, TAU Formar, Santa Coloma, Barcelona
  • Instructor, Universidad Internacional de Valencia
Javier Cañas Villarreal
  • Instructor, Escola Universitària Formatic Barcelona
  • Instructor and Researcher, Universidad Internacional de Valencia

Translated by:

Sabrina A. Kalin Martínez
  • Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

Bilingualism

The concept of bilingualism is closely related to learning a foreign language or a second language; however, its meaning is not easily explained. The definitions of bilingualism vary according to linguistic and sociological experiences.

Bilingualism is determined by one’s fluency in two or more languages, and essentially it is about possessing/maintaining the same degree of fluency in all of them. It is believed that bilingualism can develop more easily at an earlier age, even though, according to research, this is not always the case. How the language is learned is what ultimately affects the degree of bilingualism.

The general consensus is “the younger the better”. Previous studies show that at a young age the child’s mind is more amenable to linguistic conditions than an adult one, which is why language learning is linked to age. If the focus is on the classroom, there will be obvious discrepancies between children and adults when it comes to language learning. It is believed that it can be more challenging for adults to learn languages.

One of the main objectives of a language teacher is to demonstrate the fallacies of this idea. This can be accomplished by using learning strategies that help motivate students through relevant methodologies and tailor learning styles to their needs.

Conversely, there are unfounded theories regarding bilingualism. One idea states that learning multiple languages concurrently will only cause confusion between the conventions. Another speculation proclaims that when learning a second language at the same time as your first language eventually will generate difficulties in the first language. Furthermore, some parents believe that children should focus more on leisure activities at a young age, since there is adequate time to learn languages later on in life.

The role of ICT

The precise role of ICT, aside from debunking certain beliefs regarding bilingualism like those previously mentioned, is about facilitating the learning and teaching of languages. Moreover, it has made the teacher workload more manageable when it comes to creating lesson or unit plans as well as the implementation of new teaching methodologies.

This phenomenon is referred to as “digital pedagogy”, where pedagogy makes a comeback through technological resources, informational opportunities, and networking. In the field of bilingualism, computers, tablets, ebooks, and digital boards, or the internet have acquired a certain degree of importance. These tools forward an abundance of sophisticated resources that in addition to using web 2.0 applications, enables communication, peer-review, cooperative and collaborative work environments, all of which leads to the growth of linguistic awareness and improvement in the language.

The use of the internet, as a technological tool, is generally recognized as beneficial in the bilingual classroom and the learning of foreign languages. When using ICT in the bilingual classroom, not only does it improve teaching practices, it makes it more interesting and engaging.

Additionally, it is tailored to the learners’ cognitive preferences.

Ultimately, it creates a learning environment more stimulating and meaningful for the students.

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