Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 February 2009
This paper presents a case study of second-language acquisition of Hebrew via immersion in daycare between 1;10 and 3;0. A period of silence was followed by rapid onset of L2 production simultaneously with many references to language itself. Eight types of language awareness were identified, and of these, several types may be prerequisites for starting L2 production. The nature of L2 speech during the first stages of production suggests that to crack the sematic code of L2, the child relies on identifiable contingencies between utterances and subsequent behaviours by speakers and listeners. As a result there are many more imperatives and interrogatives in L2 than are evident in L1 speech, and these appear to be learned by rote in an unanalysed manner. The transition to complex constructions occurs via the juxtaposition of known but syntactically unanalysed chunks, and results in patterns of syntactic errors similar to those of adult second-language learners. Reliance on L1 as a fall-back strategy was also evident. Several implications of these data for cognitive development in general are discussed.
I would like to thank Ruth Berman for her helpful suggestions and comments during various stages of this research.