Approaches to Bilingualism, Multilingualism, and Second-Language Acquisition
The Bilingual Child
The study of bilingualism in general, and of language development in bilingual children in particular, has gained momentum over the last 20 years with a number of new international journals, a plethora of publications, new corpora, and conferences attracting increasing numbers of scholars worldwide. Important theoretical and methodological changes have taken place in the field from the early days of Ronjat (1913) and Leopold (1939), and, more recently, dating back to the seminal paper by Volterra and Taeschner (1978), which started a thriving line of research in the investigation of bilingual children’s lexical and morpho-syntactic development, and the relationship between their two languages.
From a theoretical point of view the focus has now shifted from an emphasis on language differentiation to the issue of cross-linguistic influence. Currently the majority consensus is that simultaneous bilingual children who are regularly exposed to two languages can learn them as independent systems; independence, however, does not necessarily mean complete autonomy and researchers have been concentrating on the determinants of interaction between the two linguistic systems in bilingual infants and children. Much recent work has also been devoted to the relationship between language and cognition in bilinguals across the lifespan. In the following I will review ...