INTRODUCTION In this chapte


In this chapter, we were assigned to do a case study about a multilingual individual. A multilingual person, in a broad definition, is one who can communicate in more than one language, be it actively (through speaking, writing, or signing) or passively (through listening, reading, or perceiving).We will list out several things that are included in this report. We included the methodology, the findings, and the discussions and last but not least the conclusion for this study.

Through a small research that has been done, we have identified how the subject acquired the languages in their life to complete the report. This report is done after a thorough discussion and observations through a conversation session and a written set of questions that we had done. The main purpose of this task is to identify the usage of multilingual languages by a multilingual user in their daily conversations. Furthermore, on how they acquire the languages and which language does the user uses the most and so on. We would also relate the acquisition of the languages to the language acquisition theories. Thus, by having an interview session, we managed to gather some details about it.

For this task, a research has been carried out by analyzing a conversation session that had been done with an individual named Sharon Bentley, aged 21. She is a person that uses three languages in her daily conversation which includes Hokkien, English and Bahasa Malaysia. She had the conversation among one of her friends. Not only that, she was also asked to answer a few set of written form of questions. From the written form questions and recorded conversation, we can analyze and categorize the acquisition process on how a person acquires the language in their daily lives.

The conversation that was done is recorded in an audio form and is attached to the report in the Appendix section. Along with it, is the written form of questions that are compiled with the recorded conversation audio in a form of a CD.

Below, are the findings that could be observed from the recorded conversation of the respondent.

It is a mixture of Bahasa Malaysia and English usage in the conversation. Code switching can be considered as to describe phenomenon that is a part of the character that a person was carried with and normal as in interaction between the societies. We can see that the society is using code switching in most of their communication in their daily lives. Perhaps, Malaysia is a multiracial country and that will be the only reason why people in this country are able to mix a bit from different language in a sentence.

==> “So many box, so rajin you bawak” (There are so many boxes, you are thorough)
==> “Just campak everything in my bag” (Just put everything inside my bag)

It is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose in a particular social setting. Their style of speech differs when communicating from one group to another.
For example, the way we talk to the royals is different with the way we talk among our friends.

==> Wah, so nice! (the way the respondent talks to her friends)
==> That ring is very beautiful, sir (the way the respondents would talk with her lecturer)

The characteristics, habit, mannerism or the like that’s peculiar to an individual. For example, when a Malay user speaks English, they say in their own style.

==> This actually, they put-mah the software and everything. (The respondent speaks English with a Chinese style)

This type of language is widely used in Malaysia. People in Malaysia no matter what race they are, or what religion they are, must have used this language. It is usually because we are living in a multiracial country, so most people will mix the words in Malay, Chinese, English or Tamil. They will come out with a sentence that uses two languages, but the structure is in one language only.

==> This is what box actually? (Actually, what box is this?)
==> You try and listen first (You should try and listen to it first)

In this section, we would be discussing about the findings that we have discovered and observed from the conversation session and the result of the written form questions that was prepared for a multilingual user. The discussion will be divided into three sections for an in depth understanding on how the individual acquire; the first language acquisition, the second language acquisition, and the third language acquisition respectively.


From the observations that were done, we could identify that the individual uses Hokkien as her first language. Throughout the interview, we could relate that her acquisition of the language relates closely to the FLA (First Language Acquisition) Theory. Following, are the relations of the multilingual user to the FLA Theory.

* Behaviorist Approach

What is it all about? –>
According to the psychologist Bernard Skinner, this approach is an extension of his general theory of learning by operant conditioning (H.D. Brown, 2000).

Stimulus > Response > Reinforcement

In other words, operant conditioning here is more on imperfect vocalizations that got shaped into real words through parental attention/ reinforcement.

How it relates to user –>
From the interview, the user claimed that she acquired her first language, which is Hokkien, since she was a child. Hokkien was used the most amongst her family and relatives on her mother’s side throughout her growing up days. From her statement, we could likely relate with the Behaviorist Approach that by communicating frequently in Hokkien with her family members is a form of operant conditioning. Whereas, the stimulus here is when the user’s mother pronounced a Hokkien word to her, the response would be when she imitates the word, while the reinforcement is when her mother praises her for the effort.

* Nativist Approach

What is it all about? –>
Basically, this approach was proposed by Noam Chomsky (1959). He stated that children are born with a special built in ability, which was the Language Acquisition Device (LAD). This device is believed to contain the main rules of all possible human languages. Not only that, he claimed that the child must have a wired in, built-in knowledge which is called the Universal Grammar (UG). Because of this, children tend to learn languages so fast and efficiently because they know in outline what the languages look like. All they need is some input to trigger the language acquisition process.

How it relates to user –>
During the interview session, the multilingual user claimed that the first language she acquired, which was Hokkien, comes to her quite naturally. This revelation relates to the approach that during her growing up days, she gradually develops grammatical acquisition (Universal Grammar) unconsciously. This is natural as children are born with an innate ability to contain main rules of all possible human language. The role of her family members conversing with her in Hokkien from the early stages aids her. Usually, this approach would focus more on meaning rather than the structure of the sentences being uttered.

* Interactionist Approach

What is it all about? –>
This approach was introduced by Michael Long (1985, 1986). It emphasizes more on the role of environment and the development of basic cognitive processes in developing and producing linguistic structures. He stated that comprehensible input is the result of modified interaction (H.D. Brown, 2000). Interactionist approach is also known as Motherese Hypothesis. In this approach, it stated that there is a relation between the speech adjustments adults make and the child’s language development. This is because, adult-to child language differs in many important ways than adult-to-adult language (shorter, less complex, and more exaggerated intonations).
How it relates to user –>
In this context, this approach is more on to the social and environment of the user in acquiring the target language itself. From the interview session, we could relate the approach to the user as she occasionally communicates and responds among her family, and relatives of her mother’s side in Hokkien. In this context, because she is in an environment that uses Hokkien, socializes and interacts among each other with it, it eventually becomes her native language/ first language.


Similar to the acquisition of the first language/ native language, from the same interview, we observed that the subject uses English as her second language. Second language acquisition (SLA) is a process by which people of a language learns the second language in addition to their native language. We related and identified a few of Stephen Krashen’s theory to the user’s second language acquisition. While her third language that is being used is Bahasa Malaysia. The third language acquisition is similar to the second especially if they are closely related or the learner is attempting it shortly after beginning a second language. (H.D. Brown, 2000)

* The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

What is it all about? –>
This hypothesis is the most fundamental and widely known among Krashen’s other four theories. According to him, there are two means for internalizing the target language. (H.D. Brown, 2000). That is the acquired system and the learned system. The acquired system is a subconscious process similar to the acquisition of the first language. It stresses more on natural communication, be it among family or within society. While the learned system focuses more on the conscious knowledge of the language (grammar rules for example).
How it relates to user –>
From the interview, the user stated that she acquired and encountered the second language from her parents. From this statement, we could relate that the subject uses the acquired system from the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis in her second language acquisition. This is because; she would likely be communicating and socializing in English. Doing so, it reinforces her language acquisition unconsciously. Furthermore, according to Krashen, ‘learning’ is less important than ‘acquisition’.

The respondent also learned Bahasa Malaysia through communicating with her family’s friend and her friend that do not speak Hokkien and English with her. Not only that, she also learned Bahasa Malaysia in the school where most of the subjects were taught in that particular language. There, she was exposed of its rules and grammatical structures.

* The Natural Order Hypothesis

What is it all about? –>
According to Krashen, the hypothesis states the pieces of the L2 grammatical system are learned in a specific ‘natural order’ meaning, it is predictable in a way. It rejects grammatical sequencing because the main goal is only language acquisition. Krashen also claimed that this natural order was not affected by the order in which items are taught in a classroom or even by the L1 of the learner (Vivian Cook, 2001). The acquisition of grammatical structure tends to be either early or late.

How it relates to user –>
After analyzing the interview, we could say that the user acquired the second language, which was English by means of communication with her parents and formal education by learning it in school. We could likely relate the Natural Order hypothesis by stating that when the user communicates with her parents, she would likely use non-standard form of English that is also known as Manglish. Manglish is an English based Creole spoken in Malaysia. It consists of words originating from either English, Malay, Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese or Tamil. In the subject’s case, it is a mixture of Hokkien, English and Malay. The user encounters both English and Bahasa Malaysia in both informal and formal way. While in school, she would be exposed to the correct grammatical structure of English. It solely depends on her whether the acquisition of grammatical structure tends to be either early or late.
* The Affective Filter Hypothesis

What is it all about? –>
The Affective Filter hypothesis deals more on motivation itself. Not only has that, other variables such as self-confidence and anxiety also plays a role in it. Krashen claimed that learners with a high motivation, self confidence and a low anxiety level would likely be successful in their second language acquisition. This is due to the fact that when a learner has a high affective filter, he/ she would block out the language input resulting the impossible of learning. While if a learner has a low affective filter, it would allow the input to come in thus processed by an internal language processor similar to Chomsky’s LAD.

How it relates to user –>
When asked to the respondent during the interview as why she made English as her second language, she said that it was mainly because of its fluency and comprehension. Her answer was reasonable as she uses English to communicate and socialize among her family members, relative and friends. We could relate this as a motivation for her to learn the language. She would likely feel comfortable, confident, motivated and have a low anxiety level in order to converse daily in English among her network circle. Though she would make errors in the process, she would likely be able to correct herself, and thus would enhance her second language acquisition to be on its optimal level. Not only that, the respondent also acquired her third language similarly as her second language acquisition approach that is through communication.

We have been practicing all of these language styles throughout our life with or without we realizing it. By conducting this research, we learned about how a particular group acquires language. In this particular context, how the language acquisition from a multilingual user works. We can also see various different of techniques of learning strategies in language acquisition are actually been fully used in our daily life. Through this small research, we can see that most of the people have various way of learning language. They tried all kinds of alternative in order for their message can be delivered in first, second and the third language.

In conclusion, a multilingual user would likely engage in code-switching process especially when communicating with another bilingual. For instance with the respondent herself, when asked whether the second and third language interfere with her first language, she stated that it somehow did interfere. That is why efficient approaches to strengthen the foundation of the all learned languages is very essential to avoid interference while conversing in a particular language. Multilingual acquisition is a complex phenomena since these complications and other factors are related to SLA since they can take place productively either naturally outside school, adulthood or formally through instructions. Socio-cultural of each language is also a factor that can contribute to further complexities. Furthermore, multilingualism can characterize individuals or complete societies.


(1) Brown, H. D. (2000) Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Regents.

(2) Cook, V. (2001) Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. Avon: Edward Arnold.

(3) Rod Ellis (1997) Second Language Acquisition. Oxford University Press

(4) Schütz, Ricardo. “Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition.”’s%20Theory.htm. Online. 25 December 2010.

(5) Donald Caroll. “What Kind of Learners.” From Shikoku Gakuin University, Department of Language and Culture in Second Language Teaching. Online. 28 December 2010.

(6) Unknown. “Multilingualism” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online. 20 December 2010

(7) Notes copied from Mr Mustafa’s numerous class presentations.

(8) Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

An audio CD of the recorded conversation session is attached along with the written form of questions that was given out to the respondent as proof for the research.

An article found on the internet that relates to the multilingual issue of the research.

This paper highlights the fact that multilingual children can acquire up to four languages compared to monolingual children. I will begin my research by explaining who multilingual children are. Then, I will proceed to the difference between multilingual and monolingual children in language learning who come from different backgrounds or have bilingual parents. Finally, I will tackle the factors that promote the learning of the language in multilingual children who somewhat seem to easily grasp several languages at an early age.
This research will cover one of the many interesting issues that revolve around second language acquisition (SLA) which can also be considered as Multilingual language acquisition according to Ellen Bialystok (2006). Several points will be attempted in this study and cultivated about such as the idea of multilingualism, how to come around multilingual children
3) AIMS:
A) To comprehend who bestows in learning a language.
B) To dig up the factors that endorses language learning in certain individuals C) To learn more about motivation as a crucial factor in perfecting a language.
The approach to data collection is through using journals like Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, The Modern Language Journal, University of Pennsylvania Press etc.
My study will be carried on children aged (4-15). They will be multilingual speakers from multilingual backgrounds (both parents speak different / Second Foreign language) as will as children from a non-multilingual background. The study will be carried on male and female students. My study will exclude adults. I will recruit my sample by asking parents I know and students I talk to participate in my study.
As Romaine (1995) notes, views on bilingualism have varied over the years, from Bloomfield’s (1933) notion of full command of two separate languages to
Haugen’s (1953) more modest standard that it means the ability to produce
‘complete and meaningful’ utterances in more than one language According to a study done by Aída Walqui who mentions that specific languages can be more or less difficult to learn according to the languages the learners already know. At the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, for example, languages are placed in four categories depending on their average learning difficulty from the perspective of a native English speaker. The basic intensive language course, which brings a student to an intermediate level, can be as short as 24 weeks for languages such as Dutch or Spanish, which are Indo European languages and use the same writing system as English, or as long as 65 weeks for languages such as Arabic, Korean, or Vietnamese, which are members of other language families and use different writing systems. Acquiring a second or foreign language is not a new phenomena according to Jasone Cenoz, Britta Hufeisen and Ulrike Jessner but is becoming extensive because of the tendency to introduce a foreign language from an earlier age and a second language at the end of primary or in secondary school. It is common for a child to be multilingual when one or more languages are spoken at home and in the society and use a different language as the language of instruction at school (Rubagumya, 1994; Tickoo, 1996; Dutcher, 1998).
According to a study done by Ellen Bialystok (2006) that concluded several points in which she clarifies that childhood bilingualism is a significant experience that has the power to influence the course and efficiency of children’s development. Even though bilingualism makes no difference furthermore, monolingual and bilingual children develop in the same way and at the same rate. Yet, children might have limited vocabulary in each language
(Cognitive problems) However, bilingualism is a positive force that enhances children’s cognitive and linguistic development, improving access to literacy if the two writing systems correspond and development of general executive processes for all bilingual children solving a wide range of non-verbal problems requiring attention and control. These executive control abilities are at the centre of intelligent thought according to Ellen Bialystok (2006). David Block (2007) who noted that multilingual are not semilingual, as some individuals might think, they are often seen to be hyperlingual, marking a command of several variants of each of the languages assumed to form part of their bilingualism. A study carried out by Benjamin Bailey (2000, 2003) shows how linguistic sophistication rather than semilingualism is likely to be part of the daily routine of bilinguals.
Factors that promote Second language learning (SLA) are the same as acquiring a third or additional language since multilingual acquisition is considered a simple variation of SLA according to J.Cenoz, F.Genesee in their book Beyond Bilingualism (1998) which is quite different from learning the first language considering the learning environment and the number of non-native languages known by the learner (Sharwood Smith 1994: 7)
Multilingual acquisition is a complex phenomena since these complications and factors are related to SLA since they can take place productively either naturally outside school, adulthood or formally through instructions. Sociocultural of each language is factor that can contribute to further complexities. Furthermore, multilingualism can characterize individuals or complete societies.
R.C. Gardner and W. Lambert (1972) paid attention to motivation because they think that many factors depend on motivation. They believe that if the learner is not motivated, he will not take risks in learning the language or even pay any attention to learn it. As a result, motivation is considered an essential element along with language capacity in shaping success in learning a new language in the classroom setting. When focusing the attention on motivation, it is very important to judge it from three angles, the student, the teacher and the researcher. That is if we consider students who may have dreams of becoming bilingual when they start learning any language (English, French or Spanish). According to Cheryl Wharry (1993) who stressed that attitudes and motivation have foremost effects on learning a second language, however the role of attitude and of other affective factors influencing ancestral language maintenance and bilingualism has not been given ample handling. Second language acquisition research on affective variables and on sociocultural factors may lean-to our accepting of why some ethnic minorities in the United States are bilinguals (speaking their ancestral language and English) while others are monolinguals who speak only English.
According to T. Gregersen article which mentioned that defining motivation as “attitudes and affective states that influence the degree of effort that learners make to learn an L2,” Ellis (1997) has identified four kinds of motivation: instrumental, integrative, resultative and intrinsic. First of all, instrumental motivation concerns efforts made on the part of the learner to learn an L2 for some functional reason, whether it is to pass an exam, get a better job, or to study in the university. Integrative motivation, on the other hand, involves the choice of learning an L2 because the learner is interested in the people and culture represented by the target language. As for what type of motivation, instrumental or integrative, results in better language acquisition, research results are inconclusive. An assumption of the research involving instrumental and integrative motivation is that motivation is the cause of L2 achievement. However, it could also be argued that motivation is the result of learning. In this case, learners who experience success in learning may become more motivated to learn. As for learners who are intrinsically motivated, the arousal and maintenance of curiosity depends on the learner’s particular interests and the extent to which they feel personally involved in the learning activities. Essentially, motivation is the reward for the learner’s investment of time, energy, and effort. It is related to why the student is there in the first place and what keeps him or her working. There are a lot of factors that bring students to the language learning situation and keep them there (Ehrman, 1996).
Gardner and Lamberts (1972) also agreed that motivation plays a major role in L2 acquisition. They also came to the same results in which they identified two types of motivation for learning a language: Integrative and instrumental. Integrative motivation proposes that learners crave to acculturate and become a developed member of the target language community; to be exact; they want to take on the traditions, morals, etc. of the L2 group. Another definition is that integrative motivation is identified with positive attitudes toward the target language group and the potential for integrating into that group, or at least an interest in meeting and interacting with members of the target language group” (Crookes& Schmidt, pp 471-472) while instrumental motivation is within the learners whose reasons for taking on an L2 are largely socioeconomic or utilitarian ones (e.g. getting a job).
According to Robert C. Gardner (2005) who tackled the motivation factor by professionally stating that it is a complex concept that engages cognitive, affective and behavioral components. Its essence cannot be captured by only one aspect. Integrative motivation refers to a gathering of characteristics. The research has specified that if an individual is highly motivated to learn a different language, has an open and accepting approach to new cultural groups, has a positive appraisal of the learning situation, then we might describe that person as being integratively motivated to learn the language. We would most likely also get that the person is extremely triumphant in learning and using the language.
According to Ulrike Jessner (1999) who attempted to convey three messages in his paper which was directed to multilingualism in which it has been confirmed that metalinguistic awareness can be increased through teaching similarities between languages. Secondly, multilingual proficiency is vibrant. The characterization of multilingual proficiency turns out to deviate considerably from monolingual competence in a holistic, dynamic, systems-theoretic perspective as provided by A Dynamic Model of Multilingualism * DMM*. DMM multilingual proficiency can be expressed as the result of the outcomes both on the language systems and the cognitive system owing to the supposed communicative needs of the multilingual which are subject to change. Metalinguistic understanding, which is seen as enhanced in multilingual, smooths the progress of acquiring a third language. The concluding message is that the acquisition of a third language clearly differs from the acquisition of a second language because prior language learning experience changes the quality of language learning. This actually results in conflicting language strategies in which the experienced language learner expands compared to the inexperienced learner. This development of complex cognitive skills in language learning can lead to the rapidly up of the language learning process.