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如何培养一个真正的双语宝宝

更新时间:2017-7-14 10:55:44 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Raising a Truly Bilingual Child
如何培养一个真正的双语宝宝

True bilingualism is a relatively rare and a beautiful thing, and by “true,” I mean speaking two languages with the proficiency of a native — something most of us will only dream of as we struggle with learning languages in school and beyond.

真正的双语能力是一种相对少见而美好的东西,这里的“真正”指的是能像讲母语那样说两门语言——对我们这些在学校以及后来的语言学习中磕磕绊绊的多数人,这都是很遥远的。

Highly competent bilingualism is probably more common in other countries, since many children growing up in the United States aren’t exposed to other languages. But the steps along the road toward bilingualism can help a child’s overall facility with language. And early exposure to more than one language can confer certain advantages, especially in terms of facility with forming the sounds in that language.

高超的双语能力可能在其它国家常见一些,因为许多在美国长大的孩子不会接触到其它语言。但在获取双语能力的过程中,对一个孩子的整体语言能力是有帮助的。尽早接触超过一种语言,也可以带来某种优势,尤其是形成这种语言的发音的能力。

But parents should not assume that young children’s natural language abilities will lead to true grown-up language skills without a good deal of effort. Erika Hoff, a developmental psychologist who is a professor at Florida Atlantic University and the lead author of a 2015 review article on bilingual development, said: “For everybody trying to raise a bilingual child, whatever your background and reason, it’s very important to realize that acquiring a language requires massive exposure to that language.”

但是父母不要以为,儿童天生的语言能力,不需经过艰苦的努力就能转化为真正的成人语言技能。佛罗里达大西洋大学(Florida Atlantic University)教授、发展心理学家艾丽卡·霍夫(Erika Hoff)说:“任何人要想培养一个双语孩子,无论你的背景和动机,都一定要认识到,要想掌握一门语言,必须大量接触这门语言。”

Pediatricians routinely advise parents to talk as much as possible to their young children, to read to them and sing to them. Part of the point is to increase their language exposure, a major concern even for children growing up with only one language. And in order to foster language development, the exposure has to be person-to-person; screen time doesn’t count for learning language in young children — even one language — though kids can learn content and vocabulary from educational screen time later on. “For bilingual development, the child will need exposure to both languages,” Dr. Hoff said, “and that’s really difficult in a monolingual environment, which is what the U.S. is.”

儿科医生向来建议父母尽可能多地对孩子说话,朗读、唱歌给他们听。这样做的一个原因是增加他们接触语言的机会,即便是对从小只使用一种语言的孩子,这都是非常重要的。要想促进语言发育,这种接触必须是面对面的;看着屏幕的时间对幼儿的语言学习是无效的——哪怕只是一种语言——不过再过一段时间,孩子可以通过屏幕播放的教育节目来学习内容和词汇。“就双语发育而言,孩子需要接触到这两种语言,”霍夫说,“这在单语环境里是很难实现的,美国就是这种情况。”

Pediatricians advise non-English-speaking parents to read aloud and sing and tell stories and speak with their children in their native languages, so the children get that rich and complex language exposure, along with sophisticated content and information, rather than the more limited exposure you get from someone speaking a language in which the speaker is not entirely comfortable.

儿科医生建议非英语父母用自己的母语朗读、唱歌给孩子听,给他们讲故事,对他们说话,这样孩子就可以得到丰富而复杂的语言接触机会,同时还有细致的内容和信息,这样的效果要比使用一种你不能自如使用的语言好得多。

Parents come up with all kinds of strategies to try to promote this kind of exposure. Some families decide that each parent will speak a different language to the child. But the child will be able to sort out the two languages even if both parents speak them both, Dr. Hoff said. “There is certainly no research to suggest that children need to have languages lined up with speakers or they get confused.” On the other hand, that rule could be a way of making sure that the non-English language is used.

父母为了促进这种语言接触可谓绞尽脑汁。有的家庭决定两人分别对孩子讲两种不同的语言。不过霍夫说,即便父母都是两种语言同时使用,孩子也是能应付的。“没有任何研究能证明,孩子需要说话人持续使用一种语言,否则就会搞混。”不过另一方面,这样的规则也许有助于确保非英语的语言得到使用。

If a child grows up with caretakers who speak a foreign language — perhaps a Chinese au pair or a French nanny — the child may see some benefits down the road in studying that language. But if a child grows up speaking that second language — Korean, say — with cousins and grandparents, attending a “Saturday School” that emphasizes the language and the culture, listening to music and even reading books in that language, and visits Korea along the way, that child will end up with a much stronger sense of the language.

如果一个孩子成长期间有一个说外语的看护人——比如一个寄住的中国互惠生,或一个法国保姆——对孩子将来学习相应语言是有益处的。但是如果你的孩子儿时会和表亲、祖父母说第二语言——比如韩语,去上强调这门语言及文化的“周六班”(Saturday School),听使用这门语言的音乐甚至读它的书,到韩国去走走,那么孩子最后会对这门语言具有稳固很多的理解。

It does take longer to acquire two languages than one, Dr. Hoff said, and that, again, comes back to the exposure.

霍夫说,比起习得一种语言,习得两种花费的时间的确更长,而这又是关乎跟语言的接触。

“A child who is learning two languages will have a smaller vocabulary in each than a child who is only learning one; there are only so many hours in the day, and you’re either hearing English or Spanish,” Dr. Hoff said. The children will be fine, though, she said. They may mix the languages, but that doesn’t indicate confusion. “Adult bilinguals mix their languages all the time; it’s a sign of language ability,” she said.

“正在学习两种语言的孩子掌握的每一门语言的词汇量,少于只学习一种语言的孩子;一天只有那么多个小时,而你在听的要么是英语,要么是西班牙语。”霍夫说。不过她说孩子们会适应得不错。他们或许会把两种语言混合起来,但这并不意味着他们感到困惑。“成人双语者就总是混用语言;这其实是语言能力的标志,”她说。

Dr. Hoff works in South Florida, where there is a very educated and affluent population raising children in Spanish and English. “The children start out as baby bilinguals, but the older they get, the more English overtakes Spanish,” she said. “The ones who are successful bilinguals as adults are still much better in English than they are in Spanish — they didn’t go to school in Spanish, they don’t read books in Spanish, and when you actually measure the size of their vocabularies, or the grammar they understand, or the coherence of the narrative they produce, they are not as proficient as they are in English.”

在霍夫的工作地南佛罗里达州,一些教育程度很高又很富有的人会在养育子女过程中同时使用西班牙语和英语。“孩子起初是双语婴儿,但随着年纪渐长,他们的英语水平会日益超过西班牙语,”她说。“即便成为优秀的成人双语者,他们的英语水平还是会比西班牙语高得多——他们没去过用西班牙语授课的学校,没读过西班牙语书籍,如果你真的去评估他们的词汇量,或者他们懂得的语法,或者他们叙述时的连贯性,会发现他们对西班牙语不像对英语那么精通。”

Gigliana Melzi, a developmental psychologist and associate professor of applied psychology at New York University who studies language in Spanish- and English-speaking Latino families, agreed. “Parents will need to be mindful about introducing the child to literacy in that language,” she said. “They will need to be thoughtful about ways they will encourage the child to maintain the language.”

发育心理学家、纽约大学(New York University)应用心理学副教授吉格利亚纳·梅齐(Gigliana Melzi),致力于研究说西班牙语和英语的拉美裔家庭的语言问题,她对霍夫的观点表示赞同。“家长需要留意,引导孩子习得那门语言的读写能力,”她说。“他们需要多想想,用什么办法鼓励孩子保有那种语言技能。”

It’s also important, she said, to watch the individual child and make sure the child is not overloaded with demands because of parental expectations and ambitions; maybe three languages on top of a musical instrument and a serious sport is just too much.

她说,还有一点很重要,要观察孩子的情况,确保孩子不会因为父母的期望和雄心而负担过重;三门语言外加一种乐器和一项充分参与的运动,或许会让孩子不堪负荷。

The languages you learn as a child are important, but so are the languages you learn later in life. “We all know people who make great contributions and do great science in English and are not native speakers,” Dr. Hoff said. “The human brain is amazing, and the human capacity to acquire language is amazing.”

小时候学的语言很重要,但你在生命中晚些时候学的那些也很重要。“我们都知道有些人用英语做出伟大的贡献,从事伟大的科学研究,但其母语却不是英语,”霍夫说。“人类的大脑是不可思议的,人类习得语言的能力是不可思议的。”

So what should parents do if they want to give their children a bilingual boost? “Find a native speaker and have that native speaker have fun, interesting conversations with your child, and your child will learn something,” Dr. Hoff said. “Don’t expect it will turn your child into a perfect balanced bilingual, but that’s O.K.” Whatever you do is an advantage.

那么,如果家长想要推动孩子成为双语者,该怎么做呢?“找一个说母语的人,让这个人与你的孩子进行好玩有趣的对话,孩子会学到些东西,”霍夫说。“这并不会把你的孩子变成完美平衡的双语者,但也没关系。”不论你做什么都是有好处的。

Dr. Melzi said that often, a child who has been fluent in two languages in the preschool years goes to school where English is spoken, and starts using English to describe what happens there.

梅齐说,通常情况下,精通两种语言的学龄前儿童如果去上用英语授课的学校,就会开始用英语描绘在学校里发生的事情。

“There is a push worldwide where English becomes like the lingua franca, so it’s important that the child be exposed to the other language early, and the younger you are, the more nativelike you’re going to sound,” she said. On the other hand, older children may learn more easily: “The younger you are, the more head start you have,” she said. “The older you are, the more efficient learner you are, you have a first language you can use as a bootstrap.”

“全世界都有一种趋势,英语好像成了通用语,因此孩子早早接触其他语言是很重要的,接触其他语言的年纪越小,你听上去就会越像母语使用者,”她说。另一方面,年纪大一些的孩子学习起来会更容易:“年纪越小,就越是有领先优势,”她说。“年纪越大,学习效率就越高,你可以把自己的第一语言当作自助工具。”

So true bilingualism may be rare, but parents shouldn’t be discouraged on that account, since all the skills that children acquire along the way are very valuable, Dr. Melzi said. “It’s worth it, but it’s a lot of work.”

所以,真正的双语能力或许颇为稀缺,但家长不该为此而气馁,因为孩子一路上习得的所有技能都非常有价值,梅齐说。“一切都是值得的,但要付出大量努力。”

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