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The aim of this study was to examine the role of simultaneous and successive acquisition of second language on learning difficulties of elementary students. A total of 180 students with reading, spelling and mathematics learning difficulties were
  *Corresponding author: MirMahmoud Mirnasab Department of Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran  Available online at ISSN: 2249-1465 THE ROLE OF SIMULTANEOUS AND SUCCESSIVE ACQUISITION OF SECOND LANGUAGE ONREADING, SPELLING AND MATHEMATICS DIFFICULTIES OF ELEMENTARY STUDENTS Tahereh Hajipour 1 ,MirMahmoud Mirnasab 2 ,Rahim Badri Gargary 3 SeyedGholamrezar 4 andNoorazarYaser Hadidi 5 123 Department of Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran 4 Subspecialized in child andAdolescentPsychiatry, ClinicalPsychiatryResearch Center, Tabriz Universityof Medical Sciences,Tabriz,Iran 5 Applied Linguistics, The University of Tabriz, Iran  ARTICLE INFOABSTRACT rticle History: Received11 th , July, 2014Received in revised form20 th , July, 2014Accepted9 th , August, 2014Published online21 st , August, 2014The aim of this study was to examine the role of simultaneous and successiveacquisition of second language on learning difficulties of elementary students. Atotal of 180 students with reading, spelling and mathematics learning difficultieswere selectedafter administrating the screening test. Cattell intelligence scale,reading disorder recognition test, spelling disorder test and mathematics disorderrecognition test were administered. The results indicated that reading andspelling difficulties were more to surface in bilingual students with successiveacquisition condition than bilingual students with simultaneous condition. Therewas no significant difference between groups in math difficulties. The resultsalso indicated that there was significant interaction between gender and type of language acquisition and spelling difficulties, but, there was no significantinteraction between gender and type of language acquisition and readingdifficulties;similarly also, there was no significant interaction between genderand type of language acquisition and mathematics difficulties. The findings of thestudy have implications for parents, teachers and researchers about the role of  language acquisition in students’ reading, spelling and mathematics learning difficulties. © Copy Right, IJCLS, 2014, Academic Journals. All rights reserved. Key words: Bilingual students, learning difficulties, secondlanguage. INTRODUCTION Bilingualism its basic principle is defined as theuse of twolanguages for communication (Francies, 1999). Accordingto evidence, bilingualism is found in almost all parts of theworld, and therefore, potentially, in all languages. Based on Grosjean studies (1982), around half of the world’s population are bilingual(Grosjean, 1982).There are two types of bilingualism: 1) Acquisition of twolanguages simultaneously in early childhood(simultaneous acquisition), and 2) Learning the secondlanguage having already mastered the first language(successive acquisition). Children with bilingual parentswho learn two languages simultaneously do not experienceany problem in language development. A child who triesto acquire a second language after having acquired a firstone needs about 3-5 years for being fluentlike a nativespeaker(Ramirez, et al , (Laura E Berk.2001). There isconsiderable difference of opinion among linguistsconcerning the advantages of these two different types of language acquisition (simultaneous and successiveacquisition). Some linguistsbelieve that simultaneous cognitive organization of two languages in the child’s brain diminishes abilities and capacities in secondlanguage acquisition (Dopke, 1996). However, some otherstudies (Cole& Cole, 1993;Curtsies, 1977; Goldin&Meadow, 1982; Lindforse, 1991; Mclaughlin, 1984;Newport, 1991) showed that children of 2-6 years old whoacquire two languages simultaneously are more competentthan children who learn the second language in school.The existence of different languages in some countriesincluding Iran leads to many difficulties in the formaleducation of bilingual children,especially in the beginningof primary school, where these difficulties can causepsychological problems not just for the students andchildren themselves but also potentially for other partiesinvolved, like parents. Furthermore, the situation incurs attimes certain unbidden costs for families.As shown in Bastian et al (1981), Rovandianchildren whospeak their native language at home but French as a formallanguage in school evidence significant retardations inusing prolonged and complex sentences, adverbs andadjectives and main and dependent clauses (Michaelimani,2006). Similarly, Genesee &Nicoladis (2006)showed that children who learn two languagessuccessively experience more challenges in languagedevelopment compared with those who learn the twolanguages simultaneously. The findings suggest thatsimultaneous acquisition of twolanguages leads todifferent developmental models in comparison with thesuccessive course of events (Genesee &Nicoladis, 2005). International Journal of CurrentLifeSciences-Vol.4, Issue8, pp.4275-4278,August, 2014 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CURRENT LIFE SCIENCESRESEARCHARTICLE  International Journal of CurrentLifeSciences-Vol.4, Issue.8, pp.4275-4278,August, 2014 4276|Page Amery and Asare (2010) conducted a research thatcompared language learning problems among Turkish andArab children who were studying Persian as a formalschool language. The findings indicated that bilingualchildren had more perceptual  –  auditory difficulties,particularly in the first two months of formal education,with a descending trend. These children had reading andwriting problems as well. Woolfolk (2001), in a researchabout learning disorder, showed that children who startacquiring a second language at school experience moredifficulties in areas of reading and writing compared withmonolingual children.However, Nakayama &Buteerworth (1999)arguesdifferently, showing that bilingualism isn't the cause of learning disorder. Regarding the prevalence of Learningdisorders in our society, their related consequences andfinancial costs for families and educational systemexamining the etiological factors would be crucial forpreventive goals considering the existence of bilingualismin our country and its impact on academic learning, thepurpose of this study was to investigate the role of twolanguage acquisition conditions( simultaneous andsuccessive acquisition conditions) on elementary studentslearning difficulties(reading,spelling and mathdifficulties). The study is important in identifying bilingualstudents who are at risk for learning difficulties. Statistical Population and Sampling Procedure The population of the study consisted of all studentsattending second and third grade primary schools duringthe academic year. Bilingual students (male and females)with simultaneous and successive acquisition conditionswere selected,and screening learning disorders test wasconducted.A total of 180 students (90 with successive and 90 withsimultaneous acquisition condition) were selected as afinal sample. Diagram (1) shows different groups of thestudy and the sample size of 180 total bilingual LDchildren with successive and simultaneous acquisitioncondition.The research design was an Ex-post  –  facto and causal  –  comparative one. Instruments Checklist for screening specific learning difficulties(Bahari, 1388) was administered.The test consisted of 55items in four separate sections:Section (1) included general issues such as academicachievement, IQ, achievement discrepancies , academicskills discrepancies, and a differential criterion for specificlearning disorder and othereffective factors in academicfailure (such as auditory and visual difficulties).Section (2) includes writing skills such as sentencewriting, spelling, and written expression.Section (3) consisted of two domains, i.e. decoding andcomprehension.Section (4) is related to mathematics.Content validity was studied by specialists. Test  –  retestreliability after 3 months was obtained at 73% (Bahari,1388). Reading Diagnostic Test (RDT) Reading diagnosis test was prepared and standardized byBahari&Hoseininasab (2007). This test was prepared for1-4 grade elementary students. The test has four subscales.Differential validity of the test was examined bycomparing dyslexic and normal children, which revealedrelationships between not only subscales andschoolscores, but between subscales and each other aswell.Concurrent validity was also studied by comparingthese results with Mccallum and Bell (2001) dyslexiaDiagnostic test findings. Key  –  math diagnostic test Key  –  math diagnostic test has been standardized byMohamuadEsmail.Three general domains were assessedby Key  –  math test through 13 subtests as followed:-The scope of the basic concepts Included subtests of counting, rational numbers and geometry. Table 2 T test results for students in Spelling difficulties NmeanLeventdfSig SigFSpelling difficultiesSimultaneousacquisitionSuccessive acquisition303067  /  1717  /  2359  /  0717  /  3445  /  2  - 58018  /  0 Table 3 T test results for students in Mathematics difficulties NmeanLEVENTDFSIGSIGF MathematicdifficultiesSimultaneousacquisitionSuccessive acquisition303057  /  4170  /  42234  /  0444  /  1310  /  0  - 58758  /  0 Diagram1 Flow diagram of the study design Table 1 T test results for students in reading difficulties NmeanLevenTDFSIG SIGFReadingdifficultiesSimultaneousacquisitionSuccessiveacquisition3030183  /  145933  /  119094  /  0906  /  2108  /  458000  /  0  International Journal of CurrentLifeSciences-Vol.4, Issue.8, pp.4275-4278,August, 2014 4277|Page -Fieldoperations include addition, subtraction,multiplication, division and mental calculation-The scope of application is formed of five subteststhat measure, time and money, estimation,interpretation and problem solving.Validity was estimated using Cronbach's alpha, it is of fivebasic between 84%-80%. Spelling error analysis Spelling errors including omission of letters / words,displacement of letters / words, adding letters / words,replace of homonymous Letters / word, combining words ,Irregular w ord errors were recorded. Students’ spellings were analyzed for the identification of writing difficulties. RESULTS As table 1 shows, there is significant difference in readingproblems between two groups (t= 4/108, p<0/01). Thisshows the type oflanguage acquisition may have animportant role in reading problems.Also, there are significant differences in spelling problemsbetween two groups (t=-2/455 P<0/05), (table 2), but the comparison of math didn’t bring out significant differences (t=-0/310, p>0/05). (table3).Table 4 indicates that there is no interactionamonggender, reading problems and type of languageacquisition, (F= 0/189, P>0/05), but table 5 indicates thatthere is significant interaction among gender, spellingproblems and type of language acquisition, (F=4/265,P<0.05)Diagram (2) shows gender differences between twogroups. As shown in the diagram, in simultaneous groups,spelling problems are to be more found among boys thangirls.Also, a comparison of simultaneous and successiveconditions among girls illustrates more spelling problemsin the successive group.Table (6) indicates there is no interaction among gender,type of language acquisition and mathematic problems,(F= 0/269., P>0/05). DISCUSSION The present study compared learning difficulties (inreading, spelling and math) in children with simultaneousand successive acquisition conditions.One of the results of the present study was that thestudents with successive language acquisition have moreproblems in reading in comparison with the simultaneousacquisition group. This finding is congruent with Ameriand Assare (2010),Genesee and Nicoladis (2006),Wolfollk (2001), and Bustian (1981). Another finding wasthat students with successive acquisition showed moreproblems in spelling than the comparison group did. Inother words, children who acquired Persian as a secondlanguage showed more spelling errors compared withchildren who learn two languages (Turkish and Persian) atthe same time. This finding is similarly congruent withAssareh (2010),Ginesee and Nicoladis (2006), Wolfolk (2001) and Bustian (1981).In the light of the fact that the acquisition of a secondlanguage is a complex and time-consuming process,children need 3 to 5 years to achieve fluency in the secondlanguage, one similar to that of monolingual native peers.In the same vein, they must be skillfulenough in thesecond language before reaping the benefits bilingualismcould offer. It is in keeping with these facts that childrenwith successive acquisition condition have more problemsin the domains of reading and spelling. With regard to thefact that reading involves decoding processes and writingneeds encoding, both of these skills require an appropriatelevel of verbal language acquisition.Another interesting finding of the study is related to theinteraction of gender and language in spellingproblems.Boys had more problems than girls in the simultaneousacquisition group. Such findings may be interpreted byattending to the higher linguistic potential of girls.Thus,girls would be expected to prove more able to acquire twolanguages simultaneously. In comparing boys with boysand girls with girls,variability among the girls wasobviously more than among the boys in terms of the twoconditions of language acquisition (successive andsimultaneous groups). Also, the severity of spellingproblems was high in boys in both language acquisitionconditions but only in successive acquisition condition ingirls,i.e. spelling problems prove to be low in girls with Table 4 Univariate analysis of variance for reading difficulties in two language conditions NSSDFMSFSIG Sex60526  /  4891526  /  489085  /  0361/0Type of language acquisition60259  /  92351259  /  9235029  /  16000/0Interactionsex & language-116  /  1091116  /  109189  /  0665/0Error-467  /  3226456---Total-250  /  109672960--- Table 5 Univariate analysis of variance for spelling difficulties in two language conditions NSsDfMsFSig Sex60268  /  1951268  /  195798  /  2100/0Type of language acquisition60201  /  4921201  /  492053  /  7010/0Interaction sex & language-619  /  1971619  /  197265  /  4044/0Error-946  /  390756---Total-000  /  2986560--- Diagram2 Gender differences between two groups  International Journal of CurrentLifeSciences-Vol.4, Issue.8, pp.4275-4278,August, 2014 4278|Page simultaneousacquisition condition. This may also beexplained by reference to the generally higher prevalenceof learning difficulties among boys.In the area of mathematics, there was no significantdifference between two language acquisition groups. Thisfinding isconsistent with Nakayama and Butterworth1999. This can be interpreted by the fact that theinteraction or interdependency between math ability and the child’s first language (mother tongue) is much lower  than in the case of reading and spelling skills.Some limitation of the study should be considered. Thelanguages studied in this study was Persian ad AzerbaijanTurkish languages. The finding could not be generalized toother bilingual students.Another limitation was that elementary students wereexamined in this study and generalization of the findingsfor other students should be with caution. Additionally,some students in successive acquisition condition hadlimited prior experience of second language; thesestudents were included in the final sample because of difficulties related to finding pure monolinguals.The findings of this study has some implications for thefuture research, because of the importance of languageacquisition conditions of students learning difficulties,werecommend to repeat the study for other languages. Reference Amery,H & Assare,F.(2010). An Investigation aboutLanguage Learning Problems at Elementary Levels.Procedia  –  Social and Behavioral Sciences.9.1757-1761.Asl Fattahi,B.(1993).Evaluation and comparison of academic achievement between monolingual andbilingual students in reading and spelling. UnpublishedMaster's Thesis. Tarbiat Moallem University of Tehran, Iran.Bahari,G.,A.&Hosseininasab,S.D.(2007). Constructionand Standardization of Diagnostic Reading Test.Journal of the pouyesh.2 (3).11-25Bahari,G.A.(2009). Screening checklist for students withspecific learning difficulties. Special EducationOrganization, Tehran,Iran.Berk,L.E.(2001).Development Through the Lifespan(Y.Seyyed Mohammadi,Trans) Tehran: Arasbaran Press.Cattell.R.B.(1951). Culture Free Intelligence Scale 2.Cansult.Psychol.Cole.M.&Cole.S.(1993).The Development of Children.New York : Scientific American Books.Curtiss.S.(1977).Genie: APsycholinguistic Study of aModern-Day "Wild Child". New York: AcademicPress.Dopke.S. (1996).The Weaker Language inSimultaneous Bilingualism:Why It Is Not Like L2.Department of Linguistics, Monash University.Faryar,A. & Rakhshan,F.(1992). Learning Disabilities.(3th ed). Tabriz: Sina Publications. Francis.N.(1999).“Bilingualism, Writing and Metalinguist Awareness : Oral  –  LiterateInteractions Between First and Second Languages.Applied psycholinguistic, 20.533-561.Ganji,H.(2002). Psychological tests(theory andpractice). Mashhad: Astan Quds Razavi Press.Genesee.F.&Nicoladis.E.(2006).Bilingual FirstLanguage Development. Retrived June 8, from http// www.blackwellreference.comGoldin-Meadow.S.(1982).the Resilience of Recursion:AStudy of a Communication System DevelopedWithout a Conventional Language Model. NewYork, F. (1982). Life with Two Languages: AnIntroduction to Bilingualism. Cambridge, Mass:Harvard University Press.Lindforse.J.W.(1991). Children   s Language andLearning. Boston:Allyn and Bacon.McLaughlin,B.(1984).Second Language Acquistion inChildhood.Vol.1. Preschool Children. Hillsdal,Nj:Erlbaum. (ERIC Document No.ED 154604)Michaeli. F. & Farahani, M. (2006). Can thephonological processing model explain readingdisability in bilingual students with and withoutdyslexia?. Research on Exceptional Children.6(3).735-768.Mohamuad Esmail,E.& Hooman,H.A. (2002).Adaptation and standardization of the Iranian Key-math mathematical test. Tehran: Special EducationOrganization.Nakayama.t.w.&Butterworth.B.(1999).A Case Study of an English  –  Japanese Bilingual with MonolingualDyslexia.Elsevior. Cognition 70.273-305.Newport,E.(1991). Contrasting Concepts of the CriticalPeriod for Language . Hillsdale,Nj:Erlbaum.Ramiez,J.D.,Yuen,S.D.,Ramey,D.R.,&Pasta,D.(1991).Lonitudinal Study of Structured English ImmersionStrategy, Early Exit and Late_Exit TransistionalBilingual Education Programs for LanguageMinority: Final Report (vol.1&2). San Mateo,CA:Aguirre International.Woolfolk,A. (2001). Educational Psychology. The Ohiostate University. English Edition. Table6 univariate analysis of variance for math difficulties in two language conditions NSsDfMsFSigSex60800  /  551800  /  55271  /  0605/0Type of language acquisition60067  /  151067  /  15073  /  0788/0Interaction sex & language-286  /  551286  /  55269  /  0606/0Error-580  /  1152056---Total-000  /  11816460--- *******
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