ERIC Number: ED372628
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Apr
Superhuman Forces: Young Children's English Language Acquisition and Spanish Language Loss.
Orellana, Marjorie Faulstich
A followup study looked at the language development of three children (aged 5-6 years during the present study) three years after initial observation. Initially, the children were Spanish-dominant; all had one native English-speaking parent; all were learning English easily. The followup study involved parent interviews and observations of the children interacting together and with others outside school. It focused on the children's use of Spanish and English in their daily lives and their expressed attitudes toward the languages. In the first phase of the study, the power of English was symbolized in the power of English-speaking superheroes appearing in the children's dramatic play, but English was used only in interactions related to superheroes or role-playing. Three years later, the children spoke no Spanish spontaneously with each other or their parents, were reluctant to use Spanish even when pressed to do so, and were limited in their abilities to express themselves in Spanish. It is concluded that all three children reversed their language dominance over three years, and while broad generalizations are not possible in the three cases, the children appear to actively construct their own uses of and attitudes toward the two languages from complex influences. (MSE)
Descriptors: Bilingualism, Child Language, Code Switching (Language), Early Childhood Education, English (Second Language), Followup Studies, Language Dominance, Language Maintenance, Language Role, Language Skill Attrition, Language Usage, Longitudinal Studies, Second Language Learning, Spanish Speaking, Young Children
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 4-8, 1994).