Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby tarvos » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:53 pm

s_allard wrote:Let the universe see me actually congratulating tarvos for an excellent post that confirms what I've been saying about error correction. There is no mention of fossilization as such but it is not necessary. The important thing is that improvement comes with detection, correction and better understanding.


I haven't really learned Czech for long enough to find any fossilized mistakes.

You'd be better off looking at my French or German for that.

As for Cainntear's response:

That's pretty close to my Czech teacher's methodology. I've also noticed she changed her approach as my Czech got better. Nowadays I can read Czech literature, which is a real difference from a few months ago.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby s_allard » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:36 pm

Alas, it is not clear what reineke's latest cut and paste post was supposed to contribute to the debate. At the risk of being completely out in left field, I can only assume that the idea was to demonstrate that somehow French immersion in English-speaking Canada is an example of early speaking leading to fossilized mistakes. If that is the case, I'll respond briefly.

The goal of French immersion in Canada never was and is not meant to produce native-like speakers of French. When it began in a suburb of Montreal in 1965, French immersion was basically a response to the dreadful state of French instruction in English-language schools of Quebec.

The fundamental idea was that the best age to introduce a child to a second language in the school system is as early as possible and in a situation where the medium of communication is the target language. Does anybody here think this is bad? This is certainly a form of early speaking.

Is French immersion a failure because so many students do not demonstrate perfect French? Of course their French is full of mistakes that would certainly qualify as fossilizations. But does mean that French immersion isn't working? Their parents don't believe so. French immersion has been a wild success. Parents line up overnight to get their children registered in the programs, and the idea has been copied around the world.

The thing is one shouldn't compare French immersion students to native speakers. One has to compare them with students who take the traditional French-as-a-subject classes. So, while the naysayers and doom mongers talk about bad French and fossilization, the optimists like myself see great results compared to the traditional classes.

There are two things that stand out when one observes French immersion graduates: good to excellent pronunciation and fluency, These come from the early exposure of course. The major deficiencies are grammar and vocabulary. But these can be corrected later. The good phonology can't be so easily obtained at an later age.

So, it is true that early speaking in a typical French immersion environment in English-speaking Canada will lead to fossilized mistakes but also good phonology and ease of speaking. On the other hand, non-immersion French programs leads to next to nearly zero proficiency and eternal frustration. Take your pick.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:45 am

Re: Studies of Fossilization in Second Language Acquisition
edited by ZhaoHong Han and Terence Odlin
2006

See pages 206-208 in Google preview. "Afterword” by Larry Selinker.

"I want to know if the 'unfossilizable learner' is possible. We know that conscious attention to form can lead to an inability to use that form, from which we get learning strategies where attention is on communication and expressing meaning. We also know that attention away from form towards meaning may sometimes lead to automatizing that form. Here is another hypothesis we might explore empirically: attention diverted from core to non -core, peripheral form can lead to automatizing core form."

This is the “attention to other form” hypothesis. Selinker suggests that turning the L2 learner’s attention away from core grammatical forms and onto non-core peripheral forms can lead to the automatization of core forms, thereby avoiding the potential for fossilization.

"You can be sure that your mind minds when it produces fossilized structures..."
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby Cainntear » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:20 am

s_allard wrote:The goal of French immersion in Canada never was and is not meant to produce native-like speakers of French. When it began in a suburb of Montreal in 1965, French immersion was basically a response to the dreadful state of French instruction in English-language schools of Quebec.

I.e. it was intended to teach French better. The question is whether it succeeded, and by what token. I struggle to see a language teaching method as a success if it doesn't lead to reasonably accurate use of the target language.

The fundamental idea was that the best age to introduce a child to a second language in the school system is as early as possible and in a situation where the medium of communication is the target language. Does anybody here think this is bad? This is certainly a form of early speaking.

That all depends on what you mean by "a situation where the medium of communication is the target language", because while young children thrive in natural immersion settings, and eventually acquire a near-native command of the language, this doesn't happen in artificial immersion settings, particularly where learners have the same native language.

There is an increasing trend among experts to see "as early as possible" as a huge error -- older kids, with some degree of abstract reasoning, seem to do better at learning languages, as they can employ higher-order thinking to reason about linguistic concepts that don't exist in their home languages.

Is French immersion a failure because so many students do not demonstrate perfect French? Of course their French is full of mistakes that would certainly qualify as fossilizations. But does mean that French immersion isn't working? Their parents don't believe so. French immersion has been a wild success. Parents line up overnight to get their children registered in the programs, and the idea has been copied around the world.

Parental demand is not a good measure of success. The fact that children who start study of a language at high school regularly outperform peers that started the language in primary school within 2-4 years says a lot.

The "Canadian model" was relatively successful in Quebec basically because there's a heck of a lot of French spoken in Quebec. No-one has ever replicated that success. And even that success has been challenged

The thing is one shouldn't compare French immersion students to native speakers.

You shouldn't expect them to be equivalent to native speakers, but you cannot measure linguistic competence without reference to the language as it is spoken by native speakers.
One has to compare them with students who take the traditional French-as-a-subject classes.

Remember that the immersion replaced a particularly bad version of French-as-a-subject. Pedagogy has moved on considerably since.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby s_allard » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:59 pm

In a deliberate attempt to prove me wrong - not always an easy task - Cainntear has produced a series of interesting observations (a euphemism for what I really think) about French immersion in Canada. Since I live and teach French linguistics in Canada, and I have first-hand experience with the matter, I am not talking through my hat. In fact, I studied under Fred Genesee of McGill University, who has written extensively about French immersion. Instead of wasting my time with a point by point rebuttal, I want to look at a few items. But first let me recommend a Wikipedia article to everybody and especially to Cainntear:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_immersion#Worldwide

Cainntear wrote:
s_allard wrote:The goal of French immersion in Canada never was and is not meant to produce native-like speakers of French. When it began in a suburb of Montreal in 1965, French immersion was basically a response to the dreadful state of French instruction in English-language schools of Quebec.

I.e. it was intended to teach French better. The question is whether it succeeded, and by what token. I struggle to see a language teaching method as a success if it doesn't lead to reasonably accurate use of the target language.


There is a key misunderstanding here. The goal of French immersion in Canada is not to teach French to young children. The goal is to to provide quality education at an early age using French as the medium of instruction for a certain duration and then switching to English at a later stage.

There are two benefits here. First, there is the introduction to French at an age when the acquisition of phonology and fluency is optimal. Second, there is perceived intellectual stimulation of learning in a foreign language.

It should be pointed out that this is not a new idea. I was told the idea came from observing the success of what are often today called international schools. According to this website there are 492 schools providing education in French outside France.
http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid258/les-etablissements-scolaires-d-enseignement-francais-a-l-etranger.html
There are probably even more schools using English.

While these schools often cater to the children of the expat communities, many are open to children of the local elites who like the idea of giving their children an early start in a foreign language and a prestigious education.

I always believed that everybody in the world thought that a foreign language is best learned at an early age. We observe this all the time in adults who are perfectly bilingual or mulltilingual. But I am wrong. There is at least one person here on this forum who seems to believe that it's better to learn a language later in life rather than earlier.

Well, hundreds of thousands of Canadian parents disagree. For example, in our nation's capital, Ottawa, the very prestigious French lycée Claudel charges around 14,000 CAD per year for a student in the higher grades. If that's not rich enough, the Toronto French School charges around 34,000 CAD plus an initial registration fee of 7,000 CAD. These schools are open to everyone who can afford it and pass the entrance exam.

On the other hand, next door, as a manner of speaking, are public (state) French immersion schools that provide education in French for free. Parents are not stupid. While many would love to send their children to these prestigious academies, they realize what a bargain French immersion is. That's why they spend all night waiting in line to register their children and that's why the ministries of education can't find enough French immersion teachers.

50 years of experience have demonstrated the key success of French immersion: it gives a good foundation for learning French later in life. It's not as good as going to school in France or going to an expensive all-French private school for 11 years but it's free and it's not bad.

Cainntear wrote:The "Canadian model" was relatively successful in Quebec basically because there's a heck of a lot of French spoken in Quebec. No-one has ever replicated that success. And even that success has been challenged


I'm going to be polite and hold my tongue before I get kicked off the forum again. This quote demonstrates a astounding level of ignorance of the history of French immersion and language politics in Canada. The fact is that while the first experiment in French immersion started in a suburb of Montreal, French immersion was far more successful outside Quebec than in Quebec. French immersion has only recently become widespread in Quebec, for reasons that would be too long to explain here.

From a linguistics perspective French immersion in Canada has its limitations. It does not produce perfectly bilingual graduates and never will. But nobody ever pretended that. But it does produce graduates with a good phonology and fluency, the things that are the most difficult to acquire later in life. Everybody except Cainntear sees this.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:45 pm

"Plato's problem, then, is to explain how we know so much, given that the evidence available to us is so sparse. Orwell's problem is to explain why we know and understand so little, even though the evidence available to us is so rich. Like many other twentieth-century intellectuals, Orwell was impressed with the ability of totalitarian systems to instill beliefs that are firmly held and widely accepted although they are completely without foundation and often plainly at variance with obvious facts about the world around us. The problem is far broader, as the history of religious dogma suffices to show. To solve Orwell's problem we must discover the institutional and other factors that block insight and understanding in crucial areas of our lives and ask why they are effective."
Noam Chomsky, 1968
Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin, and Use

"Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

“Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

George Orwell

Chomsky concludes his preface with the observation that, unless we can get to
grips with Orwell's problem, and overcome it, the human race may not be around long enough to discover the answer to Plato's.

David Crystal

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... mGglpNpxDw

You will find references to Orwell's problem in a book titled Fossilized Second Language Grammar...

You can connect the dots.
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby tarvos » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:31 pm

Well, hundreds of thousands of Canadian parents disagree. For example, in our nation's capital, Ottawa, the very prestigious French lycée Claudel charges around 14,000 CAD per year for a student in the higher grades. If that's not rich enough, the Toronto French School charges around 34,000 CAD plus an initial registration fee of 7,000 CAD. These schools are open to everyone who can afford it and pass the entrance exam.

On the other hand, next door, as a manner of speaking, are public (state) French immersion schools that provide education in French for free. Parents are not stupid. While many would love to send their children to these prestigious academies, they realize what a bargain French immersion is. That's why they spend all night waiting in line to register their children and that's why the ministries of education can't find enough French immersion teachers.


The same occurs in many schools in Brussels, where many Walloons send their children to Flemish or Dutch-speaking schools in Brussels. This is done to widen their job opportunities later in life as Dutch is often a prerequisite. But still, comparatively much more Flemish people speak French than Walloons do Dutch.

Just because it is in parental demand does not mean that there are large-scale results. In China, almost all children are sent to English schools nowadays after regular school hours, but the level of English there is still abominable.

The fact remains that such immersion is only good if the immersion setting would naturally also require the use of that foreign language, but this situation is often very artificially enforced and thus not desirable. It does lead to good results later in life, because then children are more able to think about what would benefit them themselves (I studied in an immersion environment for years, although my immersion concerned English in the Netherlands).
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:42 pm

s_allard wrote:I always believed that everybody in the world thought that a foreign language is best learned at an early age. We observe this all the time in adults who are perfectly bilingual or mulltilingual. But I am wrong. There is at least one person here on this forum who seems to believe that it's better to learn a language later in life rather than earlier.

Well, hundreds of thousands of Canadian parents disagree...


ADDRESSING 'THE AGE FACTOR': SOME IMPLICATIONS FOR LANGUAGES POLICY

Guide for the development of Language Education Policies in Europe From Linguistic Diversity to Plurilingual Education
Reference Study


Plurilingualism has been identified in numerous Recommendations of the Council of Europe as the principle and the aim of language education policies, and must be valued at the individual level as well as being accepted collectively by educational institutions... This text by Richard Johnstone deals with one of the factors which most often face policy makers: the apparently obvious 'fact' that early language learning is best. Parents and other laypeople see young children apparently learning quickly and with little effort and compare this with their own and other people's efforts at secondary school, which seemed to be rewarded with minimal ability to speak a foreign language fluently. Johnstone discusses the scientific evidence for and against this frequent observation and points out that the issues are far from simple. He shows for example that differences between naturalistic and instructed contexts must be taken into account, as must the advantages and disadvantages of learning at different ages. He also points out that contextual factors are crucial and provides a summary of factors in society and in the provision made in the implementation of policy which will be helpful to those who decide policy.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... zxMOZQj5lQ
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby reineke » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:43 pm

s_allard wrote:Alas, it is not clear what reineke's latest cut and paste post was supposed to contribute to the debate..

The goal of French immersion in Canada never was and is not meant to produce native-like speakers of French...

There is a key misunderstanding here. The goal of French immersion in Canada is not to teach French to young children. The goal is to provide quality education at an early age using French as the medium of instruction for a certain duration and then switching to English at a later stage..

From a linguistics perspective French immersion in Canada has its limitations. It does not produce perfectly bilingual graduates and never will. But nobody ever pretended that. But it does produce graduates with a good phonology and fluency, the things that are the most difficult to acquire later in life. Everybody except Cainntear sees this...

So, it is true that early speaking in a typical French immersion environment in English-speaking Canada will lead to fossilized mistakes but also good phonology and ease of speaking. On the other hand, non-immersion French programs leads to next to nearly zero proficiency and eternal frustration. Take your pick...

Is French immersion a failure because so many students do not demonstrate perfect French? Of course their French is full of mistakes that would certainly qualify as fossilizations. But does mean that French immersion isn't working? Their parents don't believe so. French immersion has been a wild success. Parents line up overnight to get their children registered in the programs, and the idea has been copied around the world.

... while the naysayers and doom mongers talk about bad French and fossilization, the optimists like myself see great results compared to the traditional classes...


Just say ‘non’: The problem with French immersion

French immersion—meant to inspire national unity—has turned into an elitist, divisive and deeply troubled system
March 22, 2015

"French-English bilingualism rates may be on the decline in Canada, but when it comes to getting kids into French immersion programs—which have come to be seen by many as a free private school within the public school system—there is nothing, it seems, that a Canadian parent won’t do...

Well-meaning parents may feel that French immersion is the answer for every child. In reality, it has become an elitist, overly restrictive system, geared to benefit a certain type of student...

Pierre Trudeau had a vision of a unified, bilingual country when he pushed for the first Official Languages Act, which passed in 1969, but the school system has not kept up with the challenge.

The immersion program creates division along lines of gender, social class and special needs students, wrote a 2008 study from the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy...

New Canadians, or those who speak languages other than English at home, are told something along the lines of: ‘English is enough of a challenge for you and your family. Why don’t you stick to the English language program?’ ” Wise says. “There’s no research evidence to support that kind of discouragement.” But it happens.

“You don’t want the English kids mixing with the French kids because that dilutes the whole purpose of being in an immersion setting... ”

From those Grade 12 students who then took an oral proficiency test, 99 per cent achieved at least an “intermediate” score, but only 42 per cent reached the mark of “advanced or higher.” So, what about dreams of fluently bilingual kids with the perfect accents? “I think we were naive,” says Genesee. “It can’t happen if you’re only using a language five hours a day, five days a week for 10 months of the year.”

What happens after high school graduation? Turns out native English speakers living outside Canada’s sole francophone province are rather poor at keeping up their French skills as they get older. In 1996, 15 per cent of 15- to 19-year-old anglophones outside Quebec could conduct a conversation in both of Canada’s official languages. Fast forward 15 years and the bilingualism rate for 30- to 35-year-olds in 2011 was eight per cent.

Many of today’s youngsters are part of Canada’s second generation of French immersion students, the children of those who themselves took French immersion. The first wave, however, didn’t produce a giant pool of French teachers.

Canada’s French immersion system was once a model for the world, but it now lags behind countries in Europe where the European Union’s “mother tongue plus two” benchmark—hatched during a 2002 summit—set an ambitious goal for students to learn their native tongue plus two foreign languages. In a 2012 survey of 14 European countries, 42 per cent of 15-year-olds could keep up a conversation in at least one foreign language. The European Commission’s goal is to boost that to at least 50 per cent by 2020. The commission also set out to have at least 75 per cent of students in lower secondary education studying at least two foreign tongues by 2020, compared to the 61 per cent at the time of the report.

Credit Europe’s geography, which offers a multitude of cultures and languages in close proximity. Or the Internet and Hollywood for pushing English to the forefront globally. Regardless, Europeans will have plenty more than just one language on their CV in a global economy. According to EU data, more than half of all Europeans are already able to hold a conversation in a second language, while a quarter are able to do so in a third language. Even 10 per cent can keep up a conversation in a fourth language."

http://www.macleans.ca/education/just-s ... immersion/
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Re: Does early speaking lead to fossilized mistakes?

Postby s_allard » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:34 pm

tarvos wrote:
Well, hundreds of thousands of Canadian parents disagree. For example, in our nation's capital, Ottawa, the very prestigious French lycée Claudel charges around 14,000 CAD per year for a student in the higher grades. If that's not rich enough, the Toronto French School charges around 34,000 CAD plus an initial registration fee of 7,000 CAD. These schools are open to everyone who can afford it and pass the entrance exam.

On the other hand, next door, as a manner of speaking, are public (state) French immersion schools that provide education in French for free. Parents are not stupid. While many would love to send their children to these prestigious academies, they realize what a bargain French immersion is. That's why they spend all night waiting in line to register their children and that's why the ministries of education can't find enough French immersion teachers.


The same occurs in many schools in Brussels, where many Walloons send their children to Flemish or Dutch-speaking schools in Brussels. This is done to widen their job opportunities later in life as Dutch is often a prerequisite. But still, comparatively much more Flemish people speak French than Walloons do Dutch.

Just because it is in parental demand does not mean that there are large-scale results. In China, almost all children are sent to English schools nowadays after regular school hours, but the level of English there is still abominable.

The fact remains that such immersion is only good if the immersion setting would naturally also require the use of that foreign language, but this situation is often very artificially enforced and thus not desirable. It does lead to good results later in life, because then children are more able to think about what would benefit them themselves (I studied in an immersion environment for years, although my immersion concerned English in the Netherlands).


We see here that immersion is neither unusual or uniquely Canadian. As the preceding post just pointed out, it's all over the place. And we even have here a product of English immersion in the Netherlands. Some people think that French immersion is elitist and divisive because parents are saying "Why should I pay $34,000 a year to send my child to the Toronto French School when I can get a similar product for free?" The people who claim French immersion is elitist are usually the ones who do not have children in French immersion and are not themselves interested in learning French. French immersion is a fantastic deal.

Canadian, Chinese, Dutch and parents all over the world are not stupid. They know that immersion works. Of course it has its limitations, as has been pointed out here. But does anybody here believe that immersion should be eliminated because it doesn't produce native-like speakers? That we should go back to two hours of French a week and this will produce better results than 5 hours a day? Does Tarvos think that her time in English immersion in the Netherlands was all wasted and did not teach her any English?

People can scream all they want about the evils of French immersion or immersion in general. Tell that to parents who have waited all night to register their children in the public schools or who are paying $34,000 a year for the fancy private school.

Edit: Changed the pronouns to reflect tarvos's female gender
Last edited by s_allard on Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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