Question Description

To prepare for this assignment,

  • Read the example of Erin’s language development at the beginning of Chapter 9-FOUND BELOW
  • Read Many Languages, One Classroom (Oliva-Olson, Espinosa, Hayslip, and Magruder, 2018); and
  • Find at least one scholarly, peer-reviewed, or other credible source of information on dual-language learning.

As highlighted in this week’s readings, approximately 20% of U.S. children speak a language other than English (Berk, 2013). In fact, nearly 40 states reported districts that received Title III funding who were implementing at least one dual-language program in the 2012 to 2013 school year (U.S. Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition, 2015). Consequently, early childhood professionals need to understand the progression of language development for typically developing children as well as that of children who are dual-language learners.

With that in mind, imagine that you are an early educator working in a toddler classroom preparing for Parent and Teacher conferences, and Erin—described in Chapter 9—is in your class. It’s been your practice to write a developmental summary to collect your thoughts in anticipation of the conversation you will have with each family. In this developmental summary, reflect on how you will discuss Erin’s language development given that her parents have decided to teach Erin both English and Spanish.

Think about and develop a two- to three-page essay on the dual-language dilemma supported with research findings from your text and at least one additional credible resource. Address the following:

  • Develop a research-based argument on whether it wise or unwise for Marilyn and Oscar to promote bilingualism.
  • Discuss Erin’s mixing of the two languages, indicating if it is the result of confusion or something else.
    • Outline what Erin’s family should expect regarding the impact of dual-language learning on her academic achievement.
  • Explain how the trajectory of language development (i.e., phonological, semantic, grammatical, and pragmatic) is different when students are learning more than one language.
  • Compare how the age at which a child learns a second language impacts the course of language development.

The Dual Language Dilemma Assignment

  • Must be two to three pages in length.
    • Must include a separate title page with the following:
    • Title of paper
    • Student’s name
    • Course name and number
    • Instructor’s name
    • Date submitted

For further assistance with the formatting and the title page, refer to APA Formatting for Word 2013 (Links to an external site.).

  • Must utilize academic voice. See the Academic Voice (Links to an external site.) resource for additional guidance.
  • Must include an introduction and conclusion paragraph. Your introduction paragraph needs to end with a clear thesis statement that indicates the purpose of your paper.
  • Must use at least one scholarly, peer-reviewed, or other credible source in addition to the course text.
  • Must document any information used from sources in APA style.
  • Must include a separate references page that is formatted according to APA style


“Done!” 1-year-old Erin said emphatically, wriggling in her highchair.

Oscar and Marilyn looked at each other and exclaimed in unison, “Did she say, ‘Done’?” Lifting Erin down, Marilyn responded, “Yes! You’re done,” to her daughter’s first clear word. In the next few weeks, more words appeared—among them “Mama,” “Dada,” “please,” “thanks,” and “sure.”

Marilyn spoke to Erin and her 11-year-old brother, Amos, in English. But Oscar, determined that his second child would become bilingual, used only Spanish, his native tongue. As Erin reached the 18-month mark, her vocabulary grew rapidly, and she mixed words from the two languages. “Book!” she called out, thrusting her favorite picture book toward Oscar in a gesture that meant, “Read this!” As father and daughter “read” together, Erin labeled: “Nariz” (“nose”). “Boca” (“mouth”). “Head.” “Ojos” (“eyes”). “Hippo.” “Grande!” (referring to the size of the hippo). On reaching the last page, she exclaimed, “Gracias!” and slipped off Oscar’s lap.

By her second birthday, Erin had a vocabulary of several hundred words and often combined them: “So big!” “Muy grande” (“very big”), “More cracker,” “Dame galleta” (“Give me cracker”), and “No quiero” (“I don’t want to”). Amused by Erin’s willingness to imitate almost anything, Amos taught her a bit of slang. During mealtime conversations, Erin would interject, “Geta picture” (“Get the picture”). And when asked a question, she sometimes casually answered, “Whatever.”

At age 2½, Erin conversed easily. After a family excursion to the aquarium, Marilyn asked, “What did you see?”

“A big turtle put his head in the shell,” Erin replied.

“Why did he do that?”

“He goed away. He’s sleepy.”

Language—the most awesome of universal human achievements—develops with extraordinary speed in early childhood. At age 1, Erin used single words to name familiar objects and convey her desires. Only a year and a half later, she had a diverse vocabulary and combined words into grammatically correct sentences. Even her mistakes (“goed”) revealed an active, rule-oriented approach to language. Before reaching her third birthday, Erin used language creatively to satisfy her desires, converse with others, and experiment with social roles. And she moved easily between her two native tongues, speaking English with her mother and brother and Spanish with her father.

Children’s amazing linguistic accomplishments raise puzzling issues about development. How do children acquire a vast vocabulary and intricate grammatical system in such a short time? Is language a separate capacity, with its own prewired, special-purpose neural system in the brain? Or is it governed by powerful general cognitive abilities that humans also apply to other aspects of their physical and social worlds? Do all children acquire language in the same way, or do individual and cultural differences exist?

Our discussion opens with prominent theories of language development that differ sharply in answers to these questions. Next we turn to infant preparatory skills that set the stage for the child’s first words. Then, to appreciate the diverse linguistic skills children master, we follow the common practice of dividing language into four components. For each, we consider, first, what develops, and then a more controversial question: How do children acquire so much in so little time? We conclude with a discussion of the challenges and benefits of bilingualism—mastering two languages—in childhood.