Phonological Development Among Bilingual Children Of Malay Descent Education Essay

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This chapter will provide a general idea on the phonological development as a whole. It will describe the typical phonological acquisition, the subject group, and relation between the subjects with the phonological development. Throughout this chapter, it will also convey the research problem and the aims of this research to execute.

Background of the Study

Throughout these years, there are lots of research were done in the field of phonology especially on bilingual or second language learner. These bilingual normally learned their second language at a very young age due to the encouragement from their parents and environment. However, the descent language of these bilingual children who may come from various ethnicities (which of course uses their own native language) may influence the process of acquiring the second language whether in comprehension or speech forms. One study by Gierut (1998) stated that it is hard to determine whether a child with multicultural origins who displays phonological difficulties, is phonologically disordered or exhibiting 'errors … traceable to phonological differences between the child's native language and the language being learned'. While, Keshavarz and Ingram (2002) stated that there are a lot of evidence showing that bilingual children are able to develop two separate phonological systems at the same time at a very young age. But this then was opposed by the other researchers Holm et al. (1997) noted that the phases in bilingual phonological development appear to be dissimilar than the phonological development in monolingual children.

Definitions Of Terms

In the study of phonology the word development appears to be something that over time. However, in this study the researcher has her own understanding based on the previous researcher about the topic all about. The researcher has come out with few important key words that need to be familiar with which are 'phonological acquisition' and 'bilingual children'.

Phonological Acquisition

Tomasello, M.(2008) stated that language acquisition can be defined as a process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to interact whereby it involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be verbal as with speech or non-verbal as in sign. Language acquisition usually refers to first language acquisition, which studies infants' acquisition of their native language, rather than second language acquisition that deals with acquisition (in both children and adults) of other languages.

While phonology is understood as a study of sounds are organized and use in natural language. It involves system that contains an inventory of sounds and their features and rules which specify how sounds interact with each other. Phonetics and phonology have different features. Ellis, S.(2001), Phonology appears to be the basis for further work in morphology, syntax and discourse and it analyzes the sound pattern of a particular language by determining which phonetic sounds are significant and explaining how these are interpreted by the native speaker. On the other hand phonetic are narrower where it only appears to be the basis for phonological and it analyzes the production of all human speech sounds regardless of the language.

Generally, phonological acquisition can be simplified in definition as the process of understanding the process of communication which covers a study of sounds in natural forms which analyzes the sound pattern by explaining the significant between them and interpretation of the native speaker.

Bilingual Children

Rosenberg, M. (2001), stated that bilingualism may have different meanings for different parents. For some parents, having the capability to listen in two languages but speak in just one may comprise bilingualism, while other parents may have higher expectation in which they expect their kids not only to be bilingual, but also literate in both languages. But usually, bilingual children refer to children who are exposed to two languages at the same time and capable to understand, speak and listen even they are least accurate in one of those languages.

The Objectives and Research Questions

The purpose of this study is to discover the achievements of 7 years old bilingual children of Malay descent on phonological acquisition in English. The specific purpose is to understand the influence and the effect of the descent language on second language phonological acquisition of Malay descent at the age of 7. And the research question as stated below;

What are the achievements of these bilingual children of Malay descent at the age of 7 on second language phonological development?

What is the comparison of the achievement of Malay descents' bilingual children on their second language phonological development with the typical phonological development of native speaker of English?

What are the relations between the descent language and the phonological ability on second language?

What are the factors to the phonological ability of 7 years old children regarding to the descent language?

Theoretical Framework

TABLE 1: Ages by which Phonological Processes are Eliminated






Context sensitive voicing

pig = big


Word-final de-voicing

pig = pick


Final consonant deletion

comb = coe



car = tar

ship = sip


Consonant harmony

mine = mime

kittycat = tittytat


Weak syllable deletion

elephant = efant

potato = tato

television =tevision

banana = nana


Cluster reduction

spoon = poon

train = chain

clean = keen


Gliding of liquids

run = one

leg = weg

leg = yeg


Stopping /f/

fish = tish


Stopping /s/

soap = dope


Stopping /v/

very = berry


Stopping /z/

zoo = doo


Stopping 'sh'

shop = dop


Stopping 'j'

jump = dump


Stopping 'ch'

chair = tare


Stopping voiceless 'th'

thing = ting


Stopping voiced 'th'

them = dem


Table 1: Ages by which Phonological Processes are eliminated

In this research, the researcher is going to use the framework on typical phonological development by Bowen, C. (1998). Typical speech development: the gradual acquisition of the speech sound system. However this framework is based on the native speaker, still this is actually what the researcher are looking for on the research question whether the bilingual are adapting the second language ahead with the descent language or monolingual. Based on the framework, children are expected to acquire all the phonetic sounds and eliminate the constraints of typical phonological processes at the age of 5 of much younger age that the researcher took as sample which is 7. The framework is as table 1 above.


This chapter will illustrate on how the research will be executed. This chapter includes research design, research procedure, sample, instruments, and locations.

2.1 Research Design

In this study, the researcher will be using qualitative research design, where the findings are expected to be in broader manner. This research paper is process oriented and focuses on the central phenomenon on the process of bilingual children second language phonological development based on the typical speech development theory by Brown, C.(1998).

2.2 Research Procedure

Consist of 10 children at the same age from the same descent language or ethnicity. The researcher will prepare an oral screening whereby the researcher will provide both children with the same text which contains all of the English words that represent the phonetic alphabet and also a checklist to each child for the researcher with same the text given to the children. The researcher will come out with a slide complete with pictures related to the text. The researcher will first pronounce the text given correctly and the children will follow. From this, there will be few other research assistant to assess the pronunciation of both children whether they got it right or wrong on the pronunciation and mark it on the checklist in order to avoid researcher bias. The words that contain sounds that cannot be pronounced by the children will be pronounced by the researcher repeatedly to make sure the ability. Their capability will be assess based on the speech production theory Carr, P.(1999).

2.3 Sample

In this research 10 children at the age 7 are needed (5 girls, 5 boys from 2 different schools) and it is compulsory for them to be Malays race where they will be using mostly Malay descent language. They are expected to be bilingual where they are more or less capable to read, speak and understand 2 languages which are Malay and English regarding to the age, but it is important for them to be competent in their descent language. Background and social status is not crucial but forms will be given to their parents according to the differences in order to find some other information influencing the ability of these children. These children are from SRK Convent Kota, Taiping and SRK King Edward where these 2 schools are actively practices 2 languages as medium instructions (e.g: assembly, announcement, and greeting). Students from these 2 schools basically occupies about 160-200 students from standard 1 dived into 4-5 classes. These children are different from the aspect of ethnicity, religion and also races. However, these children are taught 2 different languages at the same time. Most of these children are able to speak fluently using those 2 languages and English is strongly emphasized.

2.4 Instrument

In this research the researcher consider few approaches in order to achieve the purpose of this study. In order to be able to achieve the objective, the researcher will come out with proper instrument specifically for the research purposes. The major instrument will be use in this study is the phonological screening which contains every phonic (consonants, vowels and diphthongs). This phonological screen test is adapted from a previous research studied by Bowen,C. (2006). This screen test were done to the native speaker, however the researcher believe that those words contain the same sound and provide no constraints in assessing the phonological sounds since English and Malay has the same symbol of writing and gives no effect to the result. Other than the phonological screening that will be given to the children, the information form will also be distributed to these children's parents in order to find or gather some other extra information related to their phonological developments at the age of 7. Instead of using difficult language structure, the researcher will be using a simple and word structure which is clearer and do not overlap with other answers. As for the recording materials, the researcher will be using the recording camera and voice recorder to record the actual activities that involved the children. Basically the functions of these technologies are more towards capturing the moments and to avoid assessment mistakes. Below is the example of the oral screen test;

2.6.1 Screen Test

2.4.2 Parents' forms


Name: Contact No. :


Age :







Others. Please state: ________

Profession: ______________________

Which language is more often used for interaction at home?

Malay English Both

Which language taught first to your child?

Malay English Simultaneously

Do you give any extra classes for any of both languages?

Yes: No

State which language:_______________

How many percent do you think you used English when interacting to your child?

10%-20% 51%-60%

21%-30% 61%-70%

31%-40% 71%-80%

41%-50% 81%-90%


What do you think of your child's language speech development?





What do you think are the main factor/ factors influencing your child's speech development?


Thanks J

2.5 Location

In this research, the location of this study located at SRK Convent Kota and SRK King Edward, Taiping. Particularly, the researcher chose this place because it consists of populations that come from different ethnicities, social and economic status. Other than that, it is due to the school reputation which encouraged students to speak in English as their second language. Medium instructions in this school are spoken with 2 languages which are Malay and English.


This chapter will provide readers the information gathered by the researcher as a guideline. It will also help the process of analyzing the difference, improvements, lack of in this research as a comparison to the previous one.

3.1 Phonological Disorder in Bilingual Children

Dodd et. al. (1997) showed two cases studies of bilingual Cantonese-English-speaking children: a child had articulation errors in addition to delayed phonological development; the other child made consistent deviant errors. While from the other studied of Holm & Dodd, (1999) stated that an Italian-English speaking child with an incoherent phonological system and another with delayed phonological development have also been described. And another study by Homm et. al., (1996) for Punjabi-English-speaking children has identified children with each of the four subgroups.

According to these studies the bilingual children tend to made errors characteristic of the same type of disorder in both their languages. As for example, a child with unstable errors in one language always made inconsistent errors in their native language as well. Likewise, a child with consistent deviant patterns in their first language will also use consistent deviant patterns in their second language (even though not necessarily the same pattern). These findings confirm or validate that the hypothesis that state a single deficit underlies disorder in two phonological system of each child was true.

3.2 Bilingual Phonological Development

Based on these studies, Johnson & Lancaster, (1998); Holm & Dodd, (1999); Paradis, (2001); Kesharav & Ingram, (2002) it shows increased evidence that bilingual children develop two separate phonological system very early. These two distinguished systems are not autonomous, however, it can both display influences from other language. This trend is often referred to as transfer in adult second language acquisition and mostly affects phonology and lexicon (Viberg, 1987). The conceptual of transfer is often unused interference to bilingual children.

In bilingual phonological development, there are two major issues often pointed out by the researcher. The first one is concern about whether these bilingual children keep their two language's phonological system separate or use a single system to support both languages. The other issue is whether the bilingual children acquire phonology in the same way, following the same developmental stages, as monolingual children for each language of their language (native or second language).