Do You Know Your Language Learner?

Simply put, we are all language learners. However, we did not all learn language(s) in the same way. In the U.S., many individuals started speaking English from birth. Some individuals also learned another language in the home. Some individuals began learning language using manual communication systems. Knowing how your client learned language(s) will determine how you proceed in your interactions. Which type of language learner is your client? 

  • LEARNING HOME LANGUAGE FROM BIRTH, LEARNING ENGLISH FROM BIRTH: This is simultaneous bilingualism or dual language learners. Individuals across the globe are exposed to more than one language from birth.
  • LEARNING HOME LANGUAGE FROM BIRTH, LEARNING ENGLISH LATER: This is called sequential bilingualism or second language acquisition Some English speakers were born using a language other than English in the home first, and then learned English later.
  • LEARNING ENGLISH FROM BIRTH, LEARNING AN ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE LATER: Many English speakers learn an additional language in school. The degree of proficiency will depend on how much that language is used. Immersion helps to learn language, but it is not necessary.
  • LEARNING ENGLISH ONLY: The majority of individuals born in the U.S. speak English only in the home from birth.

No matter how English is learned, there are a few universal facts. All English speakers, regardless of where they were born or where they learned English, are affected by region, status, style, ethnicity, age, gender, life experiences, and communication models among other factors. We are all English language learners.

Members of the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology and the consumers they serve all speak with accents and/or dialects that reflect when, where, how, and with whom and from whom they learned language. Learn more now about challenges and recommendations in working with bilingual populations.