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What influence do psychological factors have on language acquisition?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

There are also psychological factors that can positively or negatively influence language acquisition. Negative opinions, prejudices, fears and attitudes play a central role in language education. If educators have negative feelings or prejudices about bilingual and multilingual education, this can create a negative underlying mood that is not conducive to learning.

Parents' can also have overly high or false expectations for their child's language skills, which can also be a hindrance to language acquisition.

Psychological factors often also influence linguistic education unconsciously when children are brought up by parents from linguistic minorities in the language of the majority. Most of the time, the parents themselves have suffered as a result of not fully mastering the dominant language. The parents mean well with their children and therefore speak the language of the majority from the beginning. However, particularly if the parents are lacking language skills in the dominant language group, they act as poor linguistic models for their children. This is especially true if, for example, they have insufficient command of the pronunciation.

Through their behaviour, they depreciate their native language and thus signal that it is not worthwhile for their mother tongue to be spoken. For one thing, they also prevent the child from participating in the communication that occurs between the parents. On top of that, this prevents the children from building a linguistic–cultural identity.

That is why it is important to question and remove such patterns of thought, negative feelings and prejudices in language education that are not conducive to the child.

Source: Cathomas, Rico und Carigiet, Werner. Top-Chance Mehrsprachigkeit. Zwei- und mehrsprachige Erziehung in Familie und Schule (2008, 1. Aufl.), p. 38.

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