What is bilingualism?

What is bilingualism?

A bilingual person is someone who speaks two languages. A person who speaks more than two languages is called ‘multilingual’.

People may become bilingual in different ways. Some bilinguals have acquired two languages at the same time in childhood, some have acquired an additional language after the first.
Children can become bilingual because parents expose them to more than one language, or because they are immersed in a bilingual environment or attend bilingual education.
We can become bilingual at any stage in our lives. A child can become bilingual from a very young age, but also adults who learn an additional language can become bilingual.
Being bilingual does not mean being equally fluent in two languages or being similar to a native speaker in both languages.
To find out more about the terminology associated with bilingualism and multilingualism you can download our handy glossary.

Dr Francesca La Morgia

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