Posted by Emy Tomita
We have always heard that the knowledge from one language transfers to the other. According to Cummins, he believes that in the course of learning one language a child acquires a set of skills and implicit metalinguistic knowledge that can be draw upon when working in another language. This common underlying proficiency (CUP), as he calls these skills and knowledge, provides the base for the development of both the first language (L1) and the second language (L2). It follows that any expansion of CUP that takes place in one language will have a beneficial effect on the other language(s). However, sometimes it is pretty hard to see when it happens and usually takes years. Of course, as teachers, we always see our high students transferring from their first language to their second language. Today, teaching summer school to help struggling students, it was pretty neat to see that a special education student is transferring his knowledge from Spanish spelling to English spelling. Analyzing the assessment, he was able to identify the sounds in Spanish and relate to the sounds in English consequently spelling many words or parts of them correctly. On the other hand, he was not able to identify many consonant digraphs such as “sh” and “th” in English due to the fact that these combination of letters and sounds do not exist in Spanish. Besides that, he had many problems with the accent marks for living in an English speaking country where most of the time accent marks are not very important or even practiced. Therefore, this is one more evidence that knowledge from one language to the other is transferable. As teachers, that’s what we need to reteach our bilingual students, the differences between the languages and make them aware of the similarities among foreign languages, so they are able to do it own their own.