Bilingualism and Multilingualism

  • Tej K. BhatiaEmail author


The study of bilingualism and multilingualism is an interdisciplinary and complex field. As is self-evident from the prefixes (bi- and multi-), bilingualism and multilingualism phenomena are devoted to the study of the production, processing, and comprehension of two or more languages, respectively. This chapter presents a state-of-the-art treatment of various facets of bilingualism and multilingualism: most importantly defining, describing, and measuring bilingualism and bilingual language development. Key notions and terms pertinent to the conceptualization of bilingualism and the bilingual mind/brain are reviewed in order to come to a better understanding of the complexity and challenges of designing, conducting, and interpreting research projects on bilingualism. After outlining general methodological steps, the chapter goes on to show how to avoid the most common pitfalls of conducting research on bilinguals and interpreting conflicting research findings concerning bilingualism. While identifying theoretical issues and methodological considerations specific to neurolinguistic, psycholinguistic, linguistic, and sociolinguistic research on bilingualism, the strengths and limitations of different methodological approaches—that is, naturalistic/observational, experimental, longitudinal, cross-sectional, grammatical elicitation studies—are examined together with their individual influence on research findings. Research tools specific to interdisciplinary investigations are also identified, and issues of bilingual language assessment (e.g. education) are addressed. Finally, research and future challenges are examined.


Bilingual Bilingualism and multilingualism typology code-mixing and code-switching Universal grammar Implicit knowledge 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Languages, Literatures and LinguisticsSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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