Early Childhood Bilingualism

Fred Genesee is presenting the Minerva Lectures across the country, sponsored by the Canadian Council on Learning. His topic is Early childhood bilingualism: Perils and possibilities, which of course will be of interest to New Brunswickers, given the recent elimination of early French immersion by the Department of Education.

A quick review of Genesee’s publications shows that there will be something for both sides of the argument around EFI:

Notwithstanding gaps in our understanding, research has yielded considerable insights about bilingual education. The following generalizations are compatible with the findings that have been reviewed here:

1. Bilingual education for majority language students is effective in promoting functional proficiency in a second, and even third, language at no cost to the participating students’ native language development or academic achievement.

2. There is often a positive correlation between amount of exposure to the L2 [second language] in bilingual programs and level of L2 proficiency, but not always.

3. Bilingual programs that provide appropriate and continuous instruction can be effective with younger or older students; in other words, advanced levels of functional L2 proficiency can be acquired by students who begin bilingual education in the primary grades and by those who begin in higher grades.

Read the entire article (PDF) .

In Atlantic Canada, lectures are 15 April in Halifax and 21 April in Charlottetown, but not in New Brunswick. Pity.


Canadian Parents for French, New Brunswick will provide a special presentation of “Early Childhood Bilingualism: Perils and Possibilities” by Dr. Fred Genesee at UNB Fredericton at the Wu Conference Centre on Wednesday, May 14 from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.

Location – Wu Conference Centre, UNB Fredericton at the Kent Auditorium, 6 Duffie Drive; Local Contact Info – Jane Keith, Executive Director; Tel.: 506.432.6584

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