Tag Archives: language

FAQ: What is a heritage language?

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A heritage language is a language learned the same way as a native language, but it is thought of as being learned in an incomplete manner. There are different degrees to which someone can be a heritage speaker. This can range from having only passive knowledge (understanding) to very advanced fluency (passive and active).

For example, a person can grow up in a house where his or her parents speak only Ukrainian, but outside the home everybody else speaks English. If the only Ukrainian input this person gets is from his or her parents then, this speaker will most likely become a heritage speaker of Ukrainian.

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FAQ: Who is bilingual?

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A bilingual speaks two languages. To what extent the speaker knows both languages may vary. One of the languages is going to be a native language. The proficiency level of the second language can range from knowing very little all the way up to having a second native language. Although technically all these speakers would be bilingual, very often the term “bilingual” is used for speakers that have a native or native-like level of language proficiency in both languages. The term multilingual is used to refer to people who speak two or more languages, being generally reserved for speakers of more than three languages.

Linguistic Link: Bilingual Benefits for Deaf Children

A new study from La Trobe University highlights yet again the importance of bilingualism from a young age. The same way that early exposure to multiple languages increases cognitive abilities in hearing children, exposure to both spoken and sign language for deaf children has positive effects on cognition and language learning. Check out this article for more details.

While you’re at it, feel free to increase your own bilingual abilities by taking a moment to learn some basic greetings in British Sign Language (BSL), which was the sign language focused on in the study.