Bilingualism – It’s Not All The Same



First and foremost, let’s set the record straight; I’m not saying that bilingualism, as an idea, is fundamentally different from one location to another, or even from person to person. In this article, we’re talking about the difference in types of bilingualism.

You may think, ‘but if it’s not about the particular person or the language itself, how could bilingualism be different? Isn’t the very definition of bilingualism to know two different languages?’

Yes, but that’s not exactly what we’re talking about.

Today I want to talk about how bilingualism is different with when it’s taught.

First, there’s the early bilingualism, which is when a child learns two types of languages simultaneously.

In contrast to early bilingualism, there’s also late bilingualism. This happens after a child has already developed their first language, and then learns another one around the ages 6-7 years.

There are also types called additive and subtractive bilingualism. Both of these occur when the person learns the second language later in life.

In additive bilingualism, the speaker has a strong grasp on the language and the person remains balanced with both languages. Subtractive bilingualism means that a speaker learns a second language, and slowly has a reduction of fluency on their original language.

Finally, there’s passive bilingualism, which could explain a large portion of High school learned foreign language. Passive bilingualism means that the first language is fluent and the second language is understood, but cannot be spoken well.

In later posts, I’ll explain how these different types of bilingualism can affect a person, both positive and negative ways.

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