Hi everyone, thanks for joining us. I'm here with Dr. George Hernandez. This is our first office hours. My name is May Green. You may have seen me around the the discussion forums. I've been answering a little bit of your questions, and in the past week I've been kind of stalking the forums a little bit, trying to find some interesting discussions. You guys had so many interesting thoughts and ideas and questions, and unfortunately, I only have picked a handful, but I really think these are the ones that sparked the most discussion and, and were very interesting. And I think we're all interested in how you are going to respond to the questions that we saw in the forum. >> Okay. >> So, are you ready to get started? >> Yes, I'm ready. >> Okay. So, the first question has to do with language switching. Would you say that language switching is a skill? Is it something that people need to practice? I think someone actually mentioned violin practice. Is it something like that? Or is it more kind of a innate skill where some people are better than others? What do you. >> That's, that's a really good question. wow, okay, so try to keep it. We'll actually, later in the course, cover a lot about language switching, and I think that answer will become more evident, but to just give a bit of a preview I don't, I mean you could practice it, certainly, like playing the violin, but I think it naturally happens. Because people who speak more than one language will have periods where they speak one and then periods where they speak another, and certainly they may have some periods where they alternate. So, you could practice it certainly purposefully, but my sense is that that's what happens to people anyway, because of the fact that bilinguals will encounter different contexts in which they use different languages. And so, it may not be the kind of switching where suddenly they go from one language to the other within the same minute, you know, or several minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. It may be in the morning they use one language, and then two days later, in the afternoon, they use another language. Maybe that form of switching but even that is switching. It's just not as often. So my sense is it's going to happen on it's own. I don't really think somebody has to practice it. I think it's just part of the ecology of being bilingual or multilingual. >> All right, and I think a follow up question to that, someone had mentioned what if you're bilingual and then you're in a monolingual setting for a long time and you come back to a bilingual setting. Would the switching between languages be something that is hard to pick up again? >> I see. That's an interesting question. A lot of that is very fluid. So certainly, if you're in a monolingual situation for a very long time, and I assume a very long time would be, maybe, several months. >> Mm. >> then, yeah, I would expect that having to switch, or moving into a situation where someone is switching more often, would actually be somewhat odd and different. >> Mm-hm. >> And require adjustment. I think yes, absolutely. >> Okay. Well, let's move on to kind of the next topic that we wanted to discuss. People have brought up this idea of a language switch and personality switch. There's many different accounts in the forums of, hey, you know, when I speak my first language, I go by this name and when I speak my second language, I go by that name. And I feel like I'm two different people when I'm using my two languages. Have you encountered that? What do you think about this phenomenon? yeah. I mean I can certainly report the same experience myself. I've heard that many, many times. And I guess the question I would always ask and it, it's kind of the question that is implicit from the entire book, which is to what extent is this specific to bilingualism? Or is this an extension of something that happens to people that are not necessary bilingual? And, I guess my argument would be that this happens to people whether they speak one or two or multiple languages because, think of someone who's, I mean I've heard this before, right? This person is so shy and they're so quiet, and, and everybody thinks they're shy and quiet. And then they say something like, if they only knew what they were really like. because when they're with their best friends, or when they're with their family, or with people they feel comfortable with, they may be very shy in a new situation or in general, but when they're with familiar people they're actually quite extroverted, or would appear to be extroverted. So now are they extroverted or are they shy? And so the answers will depend on the situation. And so I think the thing about language is it's a marker. It's a very clear marker of a situational marker. It's a very huge, strong context, and as such it's going to bring out certain aspects of people's experience and personality, if you will, because it's such a big context. But I think the same thing can happen outside of someone who speaks more than one language. I think it happens to people in general. It's just that when you speak one language versus another it's so noticeable. >> It's basically just signaling the context which you're at at that moment. >> That's my sense. My sense is that you see the same type of effect for experience, it's just people who speak only one language wouldn't market it as as much. They probably would market at, you know, at work, I'm a, I'm a certain way, at home I'm a certain way, when I go to the gym I'm a certain way, when I go, you know, out with my friends to have drinks I'm a certain way, and so all of those are different personalities within the same person. So again it's, it's contextual. It's just language it's well, you know, when I'm in Mexico I'm this way, when I'm in the US, I'm this way. It's a very strong context so it's very noticeable. >> When you think about it, if you're a bilingual you may speak one language at home and another at work. And so your personalities may just be a home personality and a work personality, as opposed to a language or the other. >> Right. >> Okay and kind of relating to that do you think that maybe first language versus second language have a different kind of emotional attachment to them? There is some data that suggests that a first language is more deeply tied to emotions. Specifically, words in a first language are deeply tied to emotion and certainly there seems to be a stronger response to, or a different response, I don't know if I want to say a stronger response, a different response to for example, bad words in one language versus the other. they, they may have a stronger feeling in, in a native language, the mother tongue, if you want to use that word, versus a later acquired language. All right. >> I can definitely attest to that. [LAUGH] And our last question, I think, is of great interest to anybody who's considering kids or have kids in a bilingual situation. Would you recommend teaching a child two languages simultaneously? Are there any disadvantages to raising a bilingual child? >> That's a really good question and obviously it's a common one. People worry. I mean the story I like to tell people is one, one time I was at a workshop for two weeks in Montreal. And so some of the academics there had, of course Montreal being a bilingual community and many of the kids going to French-English bilingual schools. But not only that, the two parents often times spoke two different native languages. So, there were cases of parents who would come up and ask me, what do I do with my child? Because each of us speaks a native language. And then there's French and English as well, all right. So they might be like Greek and Russian, French and English, and the kids are learning four languages simultaneously, and they can go back and forth between them pretty amazingly, but you wonder okay what's going on? Is it too much? And my, my answer is it depends. Obviously if there's a language impairment, if there's an issue with reading or with speech sounds those are pretty evident quickly in children. And they appear regardless of whether someone speaks one, two, five, seven, 20 languages. If there's a language impairment, it will show up in one language, either as a speech delay, and by delay I don't mean they're three and a half and you know, still speaking short sentences, I'm talking about five years of age single words. That's what we consider. There's a lot of variability and I know a lot of parents get very nervous because they have one child who had a year and three months is almost speaking in sentence or a year and a half, and another child who at age three is barely speaking in sentences. And that's within the normal range. There is a lot of variability in, in, in the type of language and, and the amount of language produced by children which would not be considered abnormal or deficient in any way. If a child is outside that range, it will appear whether it's one or two. So I don't think two is going to do anything to make it worse. One could actually make the argument that, in fact, two might help as extra training. And in fact, one time I was approached by a woman, she was she was hearing impaired, I don't think she was deaf, but she was hearing impaired. And she told me at the end of a talk, she said, you know my parents spoke Spanish at home, I learned English at school, and I'm really proud of being bilingual, because I learned both. And you could hear that she, you know, she had a, a language impairment, but she said, you know I was able to do both. And she was very proud of it. So obviously you don't want to do anything that makes a child unhappy, but I don't think that adding two is going to make things worse. the, the language impairment is, is to some extent independent of any particular language, and so it will appear whether it's one, two, three, five. >> Uh-huh. And then normal, normally developing kids would one language which was their trajectory, be different from two? >> Yeah, it's always different. One will be two, different than two. Two will be different than three. Three will be different than four. It depends on the age that it's introduced. All of these things add variability. The real question is what do you want the language outcome to be? >> Mm. >> That's the really, that's the really important question, because sometimes parents say no, no I don't want to speak, you know, my home language to my child now, because I don't want to confuse them. Let's just use the societal language. They're going to go to school. I want to make sure they transition. And then by the time they're six or seven, there's nothing, there's almost nothing of that home language left. >> Uh-huh. >> And then it's too late. And then they say oh, well, what do I do now? They won't speak to me in that language. So if you want to maintain a home language, that is one thing I would say. You're going to have to really you know work at it. It's not going to be trivial. Because a societal language is so strong. If you want to teach a non-societal language, that's going to require extra effort on the part of parents. And I would be very careful to say oh, well, we'll do that later. >> Mm hm. >> Because many parents end up regretting that they didn't. And I've met, my undergraduate advisor Archie Memora, his parents were Japanese and he said you know I, my parents didn't teach me Japanese. >> Mm hm. >> I don't know Japanese. I really, I really wish they had. So that's what you hear more often. >> Right. >> From kids, I wish, why didn't they teach me this language, when they're adults. Of course, they don't remember that they maybe rebelled against their parents. >> Mm-hm. >> They just know the outcome. So the question is what's the outcome you want? And if the outcome you want is for someone to speak two languages, then you should have them speak two languages and the kids will sort it out. They may mix, they may you know, they might just say things like hot water, agua, water. I would put them together into words, right? I would say my mama and my papa because mi, my, they sound similar so I mean that was. Somebody might freak out and think I'm confused, but I was actually finding the similarities and then blending them and then realizing that my and me are actually quite similar. And eventually I didn't do that, but I would do that when I was a kid, and it was nothing strange about it. It was just me playing with language as a kid would play with just one language in some way. So I think the most important thing parents should think about is one, what's you know, is there a language impairment? If there's not, then the question is what do they want the language outcome to be in 10 or 15 years, five years. Not what are they doing right now. because right now is very, variable. Kids go through phases. They change. It's a lot of variability. There's a lot of working out of the process. That's absolutely normal. As long as there's not a diagnosed language impairment, I think two is fine. >> So it seems like if you want a child to grow up learning your native language, which may not be the societal language, you almost have to focus more on that at home than you would on a societal language. >> Yes, yes. And, and, and I guess to add to that, you know, raising a child bilingual is more work for the parent. It's more work for the child, but it's more work for the parent to try to organize the child's life so that it has enough exposure to each language so that the outcome is at, you know, what the parent hopes it to be and that the child actually enjoys it as well, which is really important. But yes. I mean, certainly the hardest one is to overcome the societal language,. >> Mm-hm. >> Because that I mean, I, I can tell you a story about, you know, my father met a young lady. He was a professor at UCLA. He met a young lady who was one day, and they were speaking in Spanish, and my dad asked her, she's a college student, asked her, you know, well, what did you, you know, where did you grow up in Mexico? And she said, I've never been to Mexico. And so she said, yeah, I grew up here in East LA, and so then my dad asked her, well how? She says well, you know my father, the student said, my father forced us to speak Spanish at home and we could not speak English. And one time I rebelled and I said no, we're in the United States, I should speak English, and my Dad took me to the door and said look that's the United States, this is Mexico. If you want to go to the United States, go ahead. If you want to live in this house you're in Mexico and you're going to speak Spanish here. And I, you know, I couldn't support myself, so I spoke Spanish. And he was just absolutely strict about it. And that's why you know, she spoke with no accent. >> Wow. >> She sounded like she'd grown up in Mexico. Really good Spanish, very clear academic. Very, very good. And she was bilingual. Obviously, she's going to UCLA. She spoke English perfectly as well. So yes, if you want that sort of an extreme example, but I think it shows what it requires for someone who grows up in another country to be able to get that level of proficiency without ever having gone to a foreign-speaking country. And that requires an absolute, you know, maybe, obsession. [LAUGH] That's probably a little over the top, but but it worked. >> Yeah, I bet she thanks him now. >> I'm sure she's very happy. She's not, oh, I wish my dad taught me Spanish. No. >> Mm-hm. >> On the contrary, she thinks my dad was crazy, but he's right. >> [LAUGH] She might just be that crazy with her kids. >> That's right. >> [LAUGH]. >> [LAUGH]. >> That's right. Well, I think those are all the questions that I had for you from the forms. Thank you so much for meeting with me and taking these questions. And to you guys, thank you for your amazing discussions on the forums. Please keep them coming we'll do this again next week from discussion from week two. Please do go out there, post your thoughts, post your questions, and I'll be monitoring them and just trying to cherry pick some of the most interesting one. >> Thank you. >> Thank you.