What strategies do bilingual families use to foster language acquisition?

Bilinguals all speak two languages, but how they learned those two languages can vary a lot! The first example of a bilingual child that may come to mind is when one caregiver speaks one language and the other another language. This is called the one-parent-one-language strategy. It is just one of many strategies that can be used to bring up a bilingual child.

Bilingual exposure strategies can be of two broad kinds: caregiver or environment. Caregiver strategies are different ways caregivers can interact with a child in two languages. Caregivers can split up which language they speak to their child (one-parent-one-language), can do a more fluid spilt (one-parent-one-language-flexible), can have just one caregiver speak two languages (one-parent-bilingual), or some other wonderful cocktail. Environment strategies are different daily settings where a child can learn  two languages. A child may learn a different language at school, a different language at home, or a different language with grandparents or nannies. There isn’t just one way to become a bilingual!

Join us next time when we discuss what is the most important thing to consider when deciding on a bilingual strategy.

The scientific sources for our comic:

De Houwer, A. (2007). Parental language input patterns and children’s bilingual use. Applied psycholinguistics28(3), 411-424.

Sander-Montant A., Di Flumeri E., Necsa B. & Byers-Heinlein, K. (2020, July 6-9). Do all roads lead to bilingualism?. Virtual International Congress of Infant Studies.