Early Bilingualism, Phonology, Phonological Awareness
C., Isadora Reynolds
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This paper discusses the relationship between bilingualism and phonology. It concentrates on three aspects of phono-phonological development in children: perception, production, and phonological awareness. The discussion of these aspects then leads to a literature review on the impact of bilingualism in literacy. With regards to this, several studies show that the perception of both prosodic and segmental characteristics of a language begins at an early age and that there is a threshold period for the distinction of phonemic contrasts that occur in the second half of the child’s first year. Pre-linguistic production does not seem to be influenced by bilingualism, neither at the prosodic nor the segmental level. Early production does involve some level of interaction between the two language systems at a cognitive level. This interaction can either aid the development of some skills or lead to a slower, but age-appropriate, development of others. Phonological awareness, however, seems to be positively influenced by bilingualism, although there is no agreement on whether the transference of this skill between two languages is fundamentally beneficial for the child. Also, there are several views on how an advanced phonological awareness would impact literacy and if the transfer of this skill can hinder or improve a child’s performance.