“Where a Second Language is Practiced, Bilingualism Soars”

We recently published An Anthology of Bilingual Child Phonology edited by Elena Babatsouli and Martin J. Ball. In this post the editors explain the background to the book.

In 2003, David Crystal reported that ‘the new millennium would see over 1,000 million people learning English’. Such an increasing trend is still corroborated today by findings of the British Council (2020) showing that the ratio of second (L2) to first language (L1) speakers of English is 4:1. Though these numbers only involve English as one of the languages in bilingualism, one could venture to interpret them to also represent a ‘bilinguals-to-monolinguals ratio’. Given that there are about 7,000 living languages in today’s world (Babatsouli, 2019), several of them spoken as L2s, we would like to encourage the reader to do the arbitrary math and surmise the number of bilinguals in the world.

To our knowledge, there are no conclusive statistics on the number of bilingual speakers in the world, let alone the number of children exposed to more languages than one. The main reason for this is that bilinguals are like chameleons, i.e. as different as the linguistic and cultural contexts in which they may be found; this makes a scientifically reliable measurement of their sum complicated. The point one needs to take home is: “where an L2 is practiced, bilingualism soars”.

Though still a neonate in the history of linguistic research, there has been in the past forty years an ongoing increase in the study of bilingualism, which is currently experiencing an unprecedented boom. This is evident in the multitude of research publications and the continuing establishment of new journals that publish such research, like the Journal of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech.

With such background as its milieu, we are proud to be introducing An Anthology of Bilingual Child Phonology that itself radiates with youth, research, and bilingualism. Our edited volume is a compilation of original research articles that focus on bilingual child phonological development during normal or impaired practice; the developmental path of language in childhood has also been referred to as protolanguage (Babatsouli & Ingram, 2018). An anthology of this type was actually missing in the published book literature, in spite of the plethora of individual studies published in the field.

Like the two-colour flower (anthos in Greek) arrangements (-logy) of its front cover, this manuscript is on the acquisition of phonology in two languages during childhood. The book has achieved its aim to enhance research in less represented languages/dialect combinations and contexts of use in child bilingualism, and we hope that this project will constitute a first step towards more publications of this type.

This collaboration has sprung from the realization of the need for such a volume, the editors’ shared study and research interests, the love for book projects, and as a way to extend previous collaboration. We are grateful to all: participating children and parents, authors, reviewers, commentators, the book series editors, and Multilingual Matters, who contributed their efforts, expertise and goodwill, and have enthusiastically supported this endeavour.

Elena Babatsouli, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

elena.babatsouli@louisiana.edu

Martin J. Ball, Bangor University

m.j.ball@bangor.ac.uk

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like On Under-reported Monolingual Child Phonology edited by Elena Babatsouli.

Why LARSP?

This month we published Grammatical Profiles: Further Languages of LARSP edited by Martin J. Ball, Paul Fletcher and David Crystal. In this post the editors explain what LARSP is and where it came from.

The questions I’m most often asked about LARSP are about its origin. How did it start? Where did the idea come from? In a word: Why LARSP?

The answer is very simple. It met a basic clinical need and, judging by the papers in this collection, a need that still exists in many parts of the world. It all began a few years after the Department of Linguistic Science was established at the University of Reading in 1965. Nearby was the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and one day Dr Kevin Murphy from the Audiology Unit phoned the Department to ask if we could help. A speech therapist attached to the Unit was working with a three-year-old child with a language delay, and they were discussing how best to treat her. As I was teaching the course on child language acquisition, I volunteered to go and see what was up. I had never met an audiologist or a speech therapist before!

I was both thrilled and disturbed by what I encountered. After observing a therapy session with the little girl, and making notes, I could see what the nature of the language delay was. It was primarily in her grammar, and moreover in specific grammatical areas. I started to describe to the clinicians the issues to do with her clauses and phrases, her verbs (or rather, lack of them) and prepositions, and the places where speech therapy would be most beneficial…and realized after a few minutes that I had lost my listeners. None of them knew enough about English grammar to be able to take my terminology on board and build on my suggestions. At that time, linguistics and its various branches didn’t form a part of any speech therapy training course. That wouldn’t happen until after the government report into speech therapy services in the UK in 1972 (the ‘Quirk Report’).

I said I would write up my observations in a way I hoped would be helpful, and back in the Department drafted a very primitive grammatical assessment procedure. It was clear that it would need to have two dimensions: descriptive, which would identify the grammatical features children acquire; and developmental, which would show the stages through which children acquire them. This, I felt, would meet the clinical need, which was how to get patients from where they are to where they ought to be. In the Department, Paul Fletcher and Mike Garman joined in, and after much discussion and decision-making, and much clinical testing of draft versions, both on children and adults, the chart was finally published in 1976.

What to call it? We had learned that the clinical profession was full of acronyms, and we needed a succinct and pronounceable one. LARSP (Language Assessment Remediation and Screening Procedure) ticked both boxes. But why an L for Language and not a G or GR for Grammar? Well, at the time the study of grammar was felt to be at the heart of the study of language, so it seemed appropriate. But there was a more practical reason. We knew that clinicians would in due course say such things as ‘This child has been LARSPed”. Try that sentence out with the L replaced by a G or a GR, and you’ll see why we made our choice!

And now there are 34 full and preliminary versions of LARSP in languages other than English. After all, it is not only English-speaking children who have problems learning language – it is estimated that about 5% of children anywhere will struggle. So over time the idea spread. The development happened quite gradually. The first adaptation was for Hebrew, in 1982, and the later ’80s then saw versions in Welsh and Dutch. Irish soon followed, and since 2000 there has been a steady accumulation in other languages from around the world. The latest volume adds another twelve versions, for languages as different as Slovenian, from the Balkans, and Inuktitut, which is spoken by the Inuit people of the eastern Canadian Arctic.

It is interesting to see how authors have modified the original acronym to identify their versions. Perhaps the neatest is the label for Welsh – LLARSP. By adding a single letter to the original, this both ties this version to the original and proclaims its new affiliation, as it recalls the pronunciation of the double ‘L’ in Welsh place names like Llandudno and Llanrwst. For other languages there is the option of just using the initial letter of the name of the language in front of the original label – this is the option taken for Irish (ILARSP), French (F-LARSP) and Chinese (C-LARSP). Other authors prefer distinct labels – GRAMAT for Dutch, PERSL for Spanish. PERSL is the acronym of the Spanish translation of the full name of the English original – Language Assessment Remediation and Screening Procedure. But whatever the label, the adaptations maintain the original nature and purpose of the system: to use a developmentally organised framework to identify gaps in the grammatical repertoire of children at risk of language impairment.

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like the editors’ previous book on the topic of LARSP, Profiling Grammar: More Languages of LARSP

Summer Reads

The sun has finally come to Bristol and we’ve already published an array of exciting new books this summer, with plenty still to come! Here’s a round up of all the new titles for your summer reading list…

June

Decolonising Multilingualism

In this groundbreaking text, Alison Phipps pulls together ethical approaches to researching multilingually in contexts of pain, conflict and crisis; the position of the researcher; and the question of multilingualism and anglonormativity. It is both global and local in scale, ranging from Scotland to Ghana, Aotearoa / New Zealand to Sudan.

The Legal Recognition of Sign Languages

This book presents the first comprehensive overview of national laws recognising sign languages, their impacts and the advocacy campaigns which led to their creation. Each chapter is grounded in a collaborative writing approach between deaf and hearing scholars and activists involved in legislative campaigns.

 

Theorizing and Analyzing Language Teacher Agency

This volume examines the agency of second/foreign language teachers in diverse geographical contexts. It offers new understandings and conceptualizations through a variety of types of empirical data. It also demonstrates the use of different methodologies to analyze the multidimensional, dynamic and complex nature of language teacher agency.

Mandarin Chinese Dual Language Immersion Programs

This book discusses multiple aspects of Chinese dual language immersion programs, focusing on the Utah model. Themes include how to build a supportive classroom, the views of those involved, teacher identities, strategy use, corrective feedback, Chinese-character teaching, and the translanguaging phenomenon.

 

Critical Perspectives on Global Englishes in Asia

This book addresses the incorporation of Global Englishes into language policy and curriculum, pedagogy and assessment practices, and focuses on a wide range of geographical and language contexts. It will be of interest to policymakers, curriculum developers and practitioner-researchers in the area of English language education.

 

July

The Action-oriented Approach

This book presents the background to the current shift in language education towards action-oriented teaching and provides a theorization of the Action-oriented Approach (AoA). It contains a research-informed description of the AoA and explains its implications for curriculum planning, teaching, assessment and pedagogy.

Grammatical Profiles

This collection brings together language profiles of the Language Assessment Remediation and Screening Procedure (LARSP) from 12 languages around the world. It will be an invaluable resource for speech-language pathologists in many countries and for those wishing to analyse the grammatical abilities of clients of many linguistic backgrounds.

Using Film and Media in the Language Classroom

This book demonstrates the advantages and impact of using film and audiovisual material in the language classroom. The chapters are evidence-based and address different levels and contexts of learning around the world. It will be of interest to practising teachers as well as those on teacher training courses.

 

Profiling Learner Language as a Dynamic System

This volume sheds empirical light on Complex Dynamic Systems Theory by providing analyses of two longitudinal, interactional datasets. The individual analyses traverse the domains of morphosyntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse. As a whole, the collection demonstrates the impact of the ecosystem on individuals’ use of language.

Objects, Bodies and Work Practice

In this volume, contributors focus on how professionals organize their embodied conduct with material objects. The book concentrates specifically on connections between ongoing courses of interaction within work practices, object materiality and mobility in space, bodily movement and manipulation of objects, and language.

 

August

Using Linguistically Appropriate Practice

This book provides an accessible guide to multilingual teaching in diverse classrooms world-wide. It is grounded in the latest research and takes a realistic approach to the challenges found in the modern school. The author argues that multilingual teaching is an option for all teachers, and that it has benefits for every child in the classroom.

Integrating Assessment into Early Language Learning and Teaching

The volume unites research and practice on integrating language learning, teaching and assessment at pre- and early school age. It provides useful case study insights for policymakers, teacher educators and researchers, and practical ideas for practitioners who wish to implement greater integration of assessment and learning in their own contexts.

Study Abroad, Second Language Acquisition and Interculturality

This book unites studies on second language acquisition and interculturality in a study abroad context, providing timely perspectives on research in each area while also exploring the interface between them. Chapters highlight innovative themes such as social networks, input matters, learner identities and study abroad in lingua franca contexts.

Voices of a City Market

This book breaks new ground in its representation of the voices of people in a superdiverse city. Poetic and compelling, it places the reader at the heart of the market, surrounded by the voices of people from all over the world. Based on four years of ethnographic research, it is a book that reimagines the conventions of ethnographic writing.

 

For more information about any of these titles or to place an order, please visit our website.

Profiling Grammar

This February we published Profiling Grammar edited by Paul Fletcher, Martin J. Ball and David Crystal. In this post the editors explain more about the grammatical profiles used in the book.

Profiling GrammarThe clue is in the title. In this volume, as well as its companion published four years ago, the ultimate goal of every chapter – each on a different language – is to capture the significant features of pre-school children’s grammatical development and portray them on a single page.

The model for the grammatical profiles of the various languages featured in the book is a profile for English developed over three decades ago at the University of Reading. This was given the acronym LARSP, standing for Language Assessment, Remediation and Screening Procedure. Subsequent extensions to other languages have echoed this in the labels given to the new profiles – HARSP for Hebrew, HU-LARSP for Hungarian and ILARSP for Irish, for example.

As the original acronym indicates, the summaries of grammatical development outlined in a profile are intended to have a practical application. They serve as templates against which the progress of children suspected of language delay or impairment can be evaluated. (They have also been used to assess the grammar of adult aphasics, as is the case for the chapter on Bulgarian in this book). Profiles also provide a pathway for intervention if deficits are identified. They are designed primarily for use by speech and language therapists.

The twelve new profiles in this volume, covering languages of Africa (Afrikaans), India (Hindi and Kannada), Malaysia (Malay) and the Far East (Cantonese, Japanese, Korean), as well as Europe (Bulgarian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Swedish), augment the twelve featured in a companion volume published in 2012. Each chapter provides a grammatical sketch of the language, a discursive account of grammatical development in typically developing children, a description of the profile, and in most cases the application of the profile to the language of a child with impairment. The languages featured are typologically various, and it will be fascinating for readers to see how authors come to terms with the issues posed by the grammatical characteristics of their language, within the constraints of the profile approach.

A third volume is in preparation.

Paul Fletcher, Martin Ball and David Crystal

Assessing GrammarFor further information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like the previous volume Assessing Grammar.