The phenomenon of bilingualism can be divided into several types. The first main type is that of “early bilingualism”, which according to Féderation des Parents Francophones de Colombie-Britannique, consists of two parts. They have stated that the first subset of early bilingualism is called “simultaneous early bilingualism” which deals with a child learning both languages directly after birth, and is considered to be the strongest type of bilingualism and thus produces “additive bilingualism” (FPFCB 2016). Additive bilingualism refers to “a situation where a second language is learnt by an individual or a group without detracting from the development of the first language. A situation where a second language adds to, rather than replaces the first language,” (Baker and Jones 1).
The second subset of early bilingualism is called “successive early bilingualism”, which according to Unsworth and Hulk refers to children who after having acquired their first language, proceed to learn their second language, described as “L2”, also in early childhood around the ages of 3 and 4 years old. This is also considered a producer of strong bilingualism, as it is acquired at the same time that a child is learning to speak (FPFCB 2016).
The second and also very important type of bilingualism is called “late bilingualism”. According to Moradi, in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Studies, late bilingualism can be defined as “bilinguals who have learned their second language (L2) after the critical period, especially when L2 is learned in adulthood or adolescence” (108). He has stated that it is a type of successive bilingualism that happens after an individual has learned their first language and its learning process includes the individual’s usage of experience to aid in the learning or acquiring of their second language (Moradi 2014).
Regarding the usage of the languages learnt, research done by the Ministry of Education of New Zealand via their community LEAP (Language Enhancing the Achievement of Pasifika) in 2010, has found that the users may “use both languages equally” (1) and that in order to comprehend how bilinguals and bilingualism function, it is necessary to know when these languages had been acquired through an individual’s life, the contexts in which each language is used and also with whom they are spoken. By doing so, experts can understand the benefits of the phenomenon and by extension, realise the advantages of it.
In Trinidad and Tobago, late bilingualism can and may be mainly achieved through secondary school education, however not many individuals show interest in this area of study within the curriculum. According to Jeanette Morris, author of "Towards a Bilingual Society", the lack of interest in language learning can be attributed to a variety of reasons including the very fact that the field of humanities is devalued, and considered subpar as compared to other fields such as business and science. As a result of this, students are encouraged more along the path of these more popular fields and guided less towards the areas of language, neither are they shown the importance of a foreign language within these very fields. Also, taking into account the consistent usage of a second language, Morris (2) points out that the teaching methods are among the factors to be blamed for the lack of foreign language knowledge amongst students. This is so since in the past, the syllabus was developed around a special group of elite students who were destined for special professions and since then, the teaching methods have not been adapted to new learners. If students are not properly taught, then they would not be able to achieve the level of bilingualism needed to reap many personal and even economic benefits.
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