LANGUAGE INTERFERENCE OR INFLUENCE: TOWARD A THEORY FOR HISPANIC BILINGUALISM.
AuthorFLORES, BARBARA MARIE.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe evolution of the concept of language interference and how it has been instructionally applied to Spanish English Chicano children in the United States was the central thesis of this work. The study attempted to answer the following questions: (1) What does language interference mean? (2) How is it used? and (3) Why is it used in teaching English to Spanish speaking Chicano students in the United States? The study revealed that: (1) Two implicit paradigms, the languages as habit formation and the languages in contact, explained the meaning of language interference. (2) The guiding assumption operating under the language as habit formation paradigm had never been examined; thus, the wide acceptance of the habit formation theory, which defined interference as differences between two languages causing difficulty and interference. (3) The unexamined assumption in the habit formation paradigm when examined with twelve Spanish English bilingual children in grades 2, 4, and 6 was not valid; thus its instruction practices regarding language learning and language teaching are not valid. (4) Given the new knowledge about language learning and teaching (applied sociolinguistics and applied psycholinguistics), the definition of language interference had to be expanded and redefined; thus a new paradigm emerged--languages in communicative use--but its unexamined assumptions need to be examined now. (5) The wide acceptance of the habit formation definition of language interference was due to racism, prejudice, and elitism in intellectual guise. (6) Given that the habit formation definition of language interference is valid, then changing teachers' perceptions, attitudes, and understanding about language learning and teaching, and bilingualism would necessitate a demythification process. This study was a descriptive, theoretical, and epistemological examination of a phenomena that occurs when two languages are used to communicate. How reality is described depends on one's governing gaze, operating assumptions (both implicit and explicit), logic of reasoning, and theory building. If a theory is built on an unexamined assumption, i.e., has never been tested with reality, then its perpetuation builds an illusion, a myth that people try to make real. The construction and description of reality are challenging tasks in any field of study.
Degree ProgramElementary Education