Passive Bilingualism

4318209150_8defbd8033_oAfter all is said and done, we have one final bit of bilingualism we’ll talk about in this series: Passive Bilingualism.

Mentioned in the introduction of bilingualism, passive bilingualism is when a language learner has a mastery of their native language, as well as one other language that is known, but not as well as their first one. However, this is not to be confused with a late learner of a second language.

A passive bilingual is someone that has had enough exposure to a second language, as a child or earlier, that they have a basic comprehension or understanding of it, but may have much of it throughout adulthood.

This is similar to subtractive bilingualism, since the learner has lost their language, but it isn’t exactly the same since subtractive bilingualism could mean the person just never cared to learn the language other than the basics that were taught to them as a child. Passive bilinguals, sometimes also referred to as receptive bilinguals, have little to no command over their passive language.

According to François Grosjean, author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, more individuals may perceive themselves as passive language learners or monolinguals because of their poor grasp and command of that second language, when in fact, real balanced bilinguals are very rare.



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