Controversial Issues Of Bilingualism

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Discussing a topic on bilingualism is very interesting, as defining what it means can be problematic. Bilingualism also raises some controversial issues lately in several countries. Before discussing further about a part of bilingualism, it seems to be better to limit what bilingualism is. According to Weinreich (1968) in Hoffmann (1991), bilingualism is “the practice of alternately using two languages”. Additionally, Bloomfield (1933) in Hoffmann (1991) defines bilingualism is result of not losing the native language when a perfect foreign language is learned, so the state is native like control of two languages. So, bilingualism can be defined as ability in communicating two languages and possess native like control of the two languages. It seems difficult to determine who is a bilingual, a person who is involved in bilingualism, since many people can be considered as bilinguals. Therefore, there are some factors proposed by Beardsmore (1982) in Hoffmann (1991) to determine whether someone can be called a bilingual; one of the factors is age. In terms of age, the following individuals are considered as bilinguals: a three-year-old who speaks English to one parent and Spanish to the other, a five-year-old who talks in French at home and attends an English kindergarten, a senior who graduates from Secondary schools who has studied Japanese for four years, and many others. Related to age, Hoffmann (1991) divides bilingualism into two: early bilingualism and late bilingualism.

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