Bilingualism in Children classification reasons impact Strategies

Bilingualism in Children ( Bilingualism )

Bilingualism in children is the simultaneous possession of several language systems by a child, expressed in equal or different degrees. In addition to the indisputable advantages, bilingualism can entail certain difficulties in mastering the sound side, vocabulary, grammatical norms of the Russian language, and communication problems. In order to identify the indicated violations, a conversation with parents, speech therapy and psychological examination are carried out. Corrective speech therapy training with bilingualism is aimed at organizing the correct language regime, overcoming phonetic, phonemic, and grammatical gaps, and developing communication skills.  In this article we will elaborate the Bilingualism in Children with classification.

General information

Bilingualism, or bilingualism, is the ability of an individual to use two languages ​​for communication: native and non-native. The native language is considered to be the national, ethnic, which is learned in the family, the non-native language is the official one, which is used for communication in society. The problem of bilingualism is studied from various positions by several sciences: linguistics, psychology, speech therapy.

There are no statistics on the prevalence of bilingualism due to the heterogeneity of the territorial, ethnic and sociocultural aspects of this phenomenon. However, it is reliably known that the number of bilingual children has progressively increased over the past decades due to an increase in the flow of migration, the number of interethnic marriages, and other reasons.

Bilingualism reasons

The conditions in which a person masters two or more languages ​​can be natural or artificial. Artificial bilingualism arises as a result of the purposeful study of a second language as a foreign one. Most often this happens during school years, but often a child begins to learn a foreign language in the preschool period. The conditions for the formation of natural bilingualism can be:

  • Communication in different languages ​​within the family. Usually due to the fact that parents are carriers of different linguistic systems and communicate with children in their own way. As a result, the child hears and learns the language norms of both systems from early childhood.
  • Moving to another countryBilingualism is formed if the language used for intra-family communication does not coincide with that which is adopted in the state and used in society. At the same time, mastering a second language also occurs spontaneously, due to the child’s natural immersion in a different speech environment.
  • Foreign language environmentIncludes cases when, outside the family circle of communication, a child finds himself in a different linguistic atmosphere. This is possible if Russian-speaking children receive preschool education or school education in any national dialect. Another special case of bilingualism is the upbringing of a child at home by a nanny who speaks to him exclusively in a foreign dialect.

Development mechanism

Taking into account the prevailing conditions, mastering two languages ​​can go simultaneously, alternately or sequentially. With simultaneous (simultaneous) bilingualism, the child simultaneously masters both linguistic systems at once (for example, uses different languages ​​at home and at school, speaks with one of the parents in one dialect, and with the second in another).

The sequential nature of mastering linguistic norms presupposes the assimilation of non-native speech on the basis of the native one. The alternate learning of languages ​​is possible if the child alternately stays in one or another speech environment for a long time, periodically communicating in one or another dialect.

Balanced bilingualism is formed when an individual is equally fluent in both languages, easily switches between them, do not mix them. However, the mental capabilities of children are limited to a certain extent, therefore, the phenomenon of interference often arises – mixing of languages, partial transfer of phonetics, word formation, grammar from one linguistic system to another. For this reason, among bilingual preschoolers and schoolchildren, one can often find children with dyslalia, OHP, and impaired writing ( dysgraphia, dyslexia ).


Based on various criteria, there are several typologies of bilingualism. Taking into account the conditions of development, a distinction is made between natural (everyday) and artificial (educational) bilingualism. According to the degree of an individual’s proficiency in languages, bilingualism is divided into symmetric (a person equally knows both languages) and asymmetric (knowledge of one language prevails over knowledge of another). For building the pedagogical process, the classification according to the age principle is of the greatest importance, according to which they distinguish:

  • Early bilingualism – a child learns both languages ​​from birth or early childhood, being in a bilingual environment.
  • Late bilingualism – the development of a second (non-native) language begins later (from 5-7 years) after the assimilation of the norms of the first.

Based on the use of linguistic elements in speech communication, there are 3 types of bilingualism:

  • Autonomous – in each language, speech is built using phonetic, lexical, grammatical means inherent only to it.
  • Combined – in a non-native (second) language, a bilingual is expressed using the speech means of the native (first) language.
  • Mixed – both language systems have a mutual influence on speech, phonetics, and lexical and grammatical categories are mixed.

The impact of bilingualism on children

1-Negative aspects

Linguists and speech therapists note the double influence of bilingualism on a child. These conclusions are based on long-term observations supported by scientific data. It has been noticed that many bilinguals have phrasal speech later than their monolingual peers. This is due to the more complex and lengthy process of forming a passive dictionary in two languages ​​simultaneously.

Up to 4 years old, bilingual children usually mix the languages ​​being learned with each other. Later, they learn to clearly distinguish between phonetics and grammar of various speech systems. However, these children often have stereotypes of speech design that are not typical of one of the languages. It is these cases of bilingualism that require speech therapy intervention. Bilingualism in Children with classification

2-Positive aspects

Compared to monolingual children, bilinguals have more developed self-control, the flexibility of thinking, a high volume of verbal memory, and a quick ability to switch in multitasking conditions. They have more developed logical and abstract thinking, mathematical abilities, read and write more easily. Bilinguals feel more comfortable in the modern multilingual world, have a greater tolerance for people with different cultures and religions.

With the help of functional MRI, bilinguals showed higher activity of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the complex cognitive activity, as well as a higher density of the gray matter of the left hemisphere, which determines language and communication skills. It has been proven that in the long term, bilingualism delays the development of senile dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, by about 4.5 years.


The situation is aggravated if the bilingual has various forms of speech disorders: dysarthria, tachyllalia, rhinolalia. In the case of logopathology caused by organic causes, the corresponding symptomatology (blurred speech, convulsive hesitation, nasalization of the voice, accelerated tempo of speech) is clearly manifested when communicating in any language. It is more difficult to identify phonetic gaps, violations of the sound scheme of a word, and agrammatism if the speech therapist does not speak the native language of a bilingual child.

In the presence of mental retardation, intellectual disability, autism, bilingualism can significantly complicate speech ontogenesis, leading to severe speech underdevelopment. Some bilingual researchers point to an increased risk of stuttering when learning a second language before the age of three.


A special psychological and pedagogical examination may be required for children with speech or communication problems. Consulting a psychologist helps to establish the causes and mechanisms of possible behavioral deviations, to exclude delayed intellectual and mental development in children with bilingualism. The task of a speech therapist is to find out at what age a child learns a second language, under what conditions, and in what percentage the communication takes place in each of them. The examination of the state of the child’s native speech is carried out with the participation of parents who are carriers of language norms.

In a bilingual situation, the level of proficiency in a speech in a non-native (Russian) language is assessed by a speech therapist according to the following criteria:

  • the presence of phonetic and phonemic defects;
  • features of lexical and grammatical construction;
  • state of prosody;
  • the ability to communicate.

Speech therapy correction is indicated for children with a non-native Russian language, who, upon examination, are diagnosed with phonetic underdevelopment (FN), FFN, or OHP.

Strategies for bilingualism in children

The need, as well as the amount of correctional and speech therapy assistance, depends on the level of proficiency in Russian, identified phonetic and phonemic, grammatical defects, communication problems, and concomitant speech pathology. On the basis of Russian preschool educational institutions, the program of G.V. Chirkina on teaching foreign language preschoolers with FFN and ONR.

It is based on the immersion of bilinguals in the Russian-speaking environment, the study of speech norms in various communicative situations. The main tasks are the formation of correct sound pronunciation and sound recognition, intonation coloring of speech; mastering the lexical volume necessary for a fluent understanding of speech; consolidation of grammatical skills, the ability to communicate freely in a foreign language.

For the successful upbringing of bilingual children, communication strategies have been developed that have been successfully tested in practice. They include several fundamental rules to help make language acquisition as effective as possible and to keep proficiency in them at a sufficiently high level:

  1. “One parent, one language” Each family member communicates with the child in only one specific language (dad – only in Tatar, mom – only in Russian). This learning model is common in inter-ethnic marriages.
  2. “One situation/place – one language” Provides for the use of one or another language in certain conditions: at home with the child they speak only Russian, and outside the home (on the street, at a party, kindergarten, school) – in another language chosen for study.
  3. “One time – one language.” It is based on the use of one dialect on certain days of the week or time of day, and the second at another selected time (for example, family traditions to arrange “French evenings” or “English Saturdays”). It is important that the ratio of communication time in both languages ​​is approximately equal.

We hope that you have understood the phenomenon of bilingualism in children.

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