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Language and Cognitive Aspects of Child Bilingualism

Research Observations and Classroom Applications

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Maria Andreou

This book investigates how bilingualism affects children’s language, cognitive and narrative abilities. The data sample derives from 209 8-12 years old bilingual children, in three different targeted languages (Greek-English, Greek-German, Greek-Albanian) along with 100 monolingual Greek children. The children completed baseline and experimental tasks measuring their vocabulary, grammar, cognitive skills, and narrative production abilities. The outcome of this work reveals that learning to read and write in two languages is beneficial for the development of language and cognitive skills. A strong case can be made to the growing bilingual communities in Germany and beyond to provide literacy training in both languages within mainstream schools, afternoon classes outside of the curriculum or in community schools.

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7 Practical Applications of Narratives in Language Instruction

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Narratives can be a highly effective didactical tool in teaching approaches. CLIL would be a suitable example of such approaches that incorporate foreign language teaching into normal courses. CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning and refers to teaching subjects such as science, history and geography to students through a foreign language. In this context, narratives can serve as a way of contextualizing and introducing new language, making it more comprehensible and memorable. In comparison to more traditional teaching approaches, narratives have the added benefit of directly addressing the student’s emotions and feelings, by being more relatable than just informative content. This way, the intended information becomes more interesting and relevant, which increases both attention and memorability, thus leading to longer-lasting learning results. Stories are often about interesting topics which may serve to present, practice, consolidate or extend children’s knowledge on a particular thematic area related to any school subject. Even in early stages of CLIL teaching when the children’s vocabulary is still fairly limited, narratives can already provoke increased communication and interaction with their peers and the teacher. Narratives effectively increase both language fluency and content knowledge, making them a valuable asset in such teaching contexts.

Also from a cognitive point of view, narratives appear to have great didactical value as teaching tools, as they involve predicting, guessing or searching for meaning and linking it to prior knowledge on atopic. This helps giving children support by listening to or reading about a topic from a partly...

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