Bilingualism: Development and Types of Bilingualism

Currently, the strengthening of economic, political and cultural ties between the countries has changed and continues to change the terms of the functioning and teaching of foreign languages. The knowledge of another language in the modern world is an acute need for the realization of interpersonal communication in optimal conditions.

It is a fact that there always prevailed the psychologically valuable idea that the “educated person should at least one or two foreign languages”, but today this idea has become a necessity.

The changes in the geopolitical and socio-cultural situation in the modern world lead to an increase of interest to languages as an important component of training of specialists. However, this does not mean that learning foreign languages now has only the practical purpose. Today, in the study of foreign languages there are closely intertwined scientific, academic and educational purposes.

There is a social reality of everyday life especially in those interpretations, which are the basis for the activities of social partners. Language is the primary means of expression of the transferred information. The focus is verbal communication, dialogue, communicative activities.

To implement these activities with foreign partners good knowledge of foreign languages as a means of communication is required. Verbal expression is always the result of communication between partners, interactive process, for which the person must contribute to discursive activities of the speaker.

All of this supports the need for knowledge of one or more foreign languages as a means of communication. Thus, bilingualism and multilingualism becomes a feature of modern person and modern culture. (Myers-Scotton, 2005, p123)

In linguistic literature there are different understandings of the term bilingualism:

  1. some scientists believe bilingual who learned a second language mainly in the natural environment along with their native language;
  2. other consider to be bilingual all those who study one or more foreign languages in an organized form in a particular school, the results of this process is an artificial bilingualism.

The process of forming a natural bilingualism can not be divided into stages, as opposed to artificial bilingualism, in which a certain stage is of great significance (receptive activity, receptive-productive and reproductive work activities).

Although there were attempts to exclude these stages of the process of teaching a foreign language when it was taught according to the model of native language. These attempts could not lead to desired results, if a foreign language is studied in a foreign language environment. (Bialystok, 2001, p56)

In modern psycholinguistics bilingualism is seen as some scale, which is marked with knowing a second language. There are three main types of bilingualism, the appropriate level of proficiency in a second language.

Speaking about sub-coordinate type it should be mentioned that it presumably has a semantic base and the two linguistic systems; the system is a second language is subordinate to the first language system, i.e. the speech includes the transfer.

Speaking about coordinate type it should be noted that language system is stored separately from the two semantic databases, each of which is related to specific systems of input – output.

In the compound type of bilingual, two languages merged into a single system with a unified semantic base and the two mechanisms of entry and two exit mechanisms.

Socially significant is the bilingualism, which has developed as social function in the life of the people, mostly covers people with different knowledge and the use of both languages the second (foreign) language is worse to speak.

There is the type of bilingual, when an individual or group of people speak the language of their nationality a little, which is used in very limited areas and with the shift in speech. Then there is a question what language is mother language.

While answering this question, the native language often referred to as the most functionally active in speech practice. In the case of the same active use of both languages, there is a reason to say that there are two native languages. The hierarchy is established between them only according to the degree of speaking, and when it is similar, the only criterion is ethnicity. However, such an understanding of the term

”native language” can not be recognized as clear and reasonable, especially if there is an idea of speaking “two native languages”, i.e. an individual born in

inter-ethnic family and speaking languages of mother and father in the same way will not be able to use one criterion in determining their own language. Ethnicity is not the only, but one of the first signs in determining the native language of bilingual person. (Myers-Scotton, 2005, p127)

Thus, it is impossible to equate between the concepts of “language” and “Functionally active language”, i.e. the individual must be not so much active, but they should understand:

  1. their ethnicity,
  2. common culture and
  3. the unity of mental warehouse with the appropriate nation or ethnic group.

The problem of determining the native language is only to bilingual. If an individual speaks only one language, then it will be native language, regardless of his ethnicity, etc. (Romaine,1995, p102)

Depending on the socio-economic, professional, psychological and other reasons, the individual may gradually move to use the second language in all spheres of their lives.

The native language of the individual loses their functional significance in his life, remains unused or forgotten.

For any bilingual, native language is the historical communication of ethnic group to which the individual refers themselves, but functionally active language is a means of everyday communication, an instrument of expression of thoughts and feelings, it becomes more necessary in the process of socio-economic and even private life of the individual.

For classification of bilingualism in the socio-dimension there should be clearly established the criteria that would have their own sociolinguistic status.

Some scientists in the classification of bilingualism as a social phenomenon account activity-passivity in speaking the second language, normative – non-normative bilingual, the degree of learning a second language. However, these criteria allow considering bilingualism as a linguistic phenomenon, not sociolinguistic.

There some of the definitions should be compared: “Everyday bilingualism manifested in the form of additive or alternate use of all phraseological expressions of both primary and secondary languages” and “Strong if considered to be the degree of knowledge in which a person speaks, reads and writes in a second language”. (Romaine,1995, p102)

Everyday bilingualism is not correlated socially, it can occur at any demographic or socio-professional group, as well as strong degree of proficiency in a second language. None of the above definitions does not point to the sociological nature of bilingualism. Naturally, at the level of speech it is possible to explore and make the appropriate classification of social differentiation.

However, such an approach will take into account not only sociological, but actual linguistic aspects of bilingual speech, and not the essence of a sociological bilingualism, as deviations from the standard speech-interference, is the subject of study of linguistics and psycholinguistics.

It would be appropriate to speak about the positive features of bilingualism for children.

National culture of children is a vital component of their self-esteem. The language they speak at home and from their birth is an integral part of their identity.

The lag in school due to lack of knowledge of foreign language is often very strong demoralizing and overwhelming factor in the development of children. If a child is doing a good job in assignments in their native language, they take much more enthusiasm for studying a foreign language. (Mccardle, Hof, 2006, p77)

Besides the fact that bilingualism is the link between home and school, in most cases, this form of training is much easier for children is the learning process, allowing achieving better results. Otherwise, students, immigrants are deprived of equal educational opportunities as compared with the indigenous areas.

It is believed that bilingualism is good for the development of memory, the ability to understand, analyze and discuss the phenomenon of language, thinking, quick reactions, mathematical skills and logic. Bilingual children, as a rule, learn well and better than other learning abstract science, literature and other foreign languages. (Mccardle, Hof, 2006, p78)

Bilingualism is also distinguished by the number of actions. Receptive (perceiving) bilingualism exists when people has a rough understanding of foreign language speech but the person themselves almost does not speak or write.

Reproductive (simulated) allows not only perceiving (paraphrase) foreign language texts, but also reproducing the read or listening. Production (manufacturing) Bilingualism allows not only to understand and play the foreign-language texts, but also to produce them. In other words, productive bilingualism is when people can more or less free to speak and write in another language.

Country, nation, community, state, school, family, culture – all these concepts relate to the use of language. It is possible to meet different combinations of languages in the life of the people.

Political, social, economic, spiritual reasons forcing people to change their lives, and with it – their language. Sometimes, however, the study of language leads to a change in lifestyle. Bilingual is a person, more or less continuously using two languages. There are also multi-lingual people and multilingual communities. (Yule, 2005, p53)

About half of the world’s population lives in a multilingual environment, and this is an impact on language policy and language planning.

The state language policy of multilingual communities can be mainly of two types: monolingualism is supported in all of their territories, and bilingualism remains a “private matter” of migrants and immigrants, or for administrative purposes, one or two languages are official and, with respect to the languages of national minorities is a policy that allows them to meet the needs of ethic cultural, primarily to obtain education in their mother language.

Languages continue to develop in Diaspora, i.e., in scattering, so that communities with a culture or language, outside of their historical homeland are living in an environment of other languages and cultures. As a result, there are variants of the language significantly different from those who speak in the city (mostly the place of settlement and residence).

Since the language has always served the needs of certain people, when relocation of changes passed through the same language content, and partly linguistic expression, and the speakers begin to feel the impact of foreign language environment in the formulation of ideas.

To live outside the country that defines mainstreaming the development of language means to forget the native language completely, or adjust its vocabulary and structure to the new socio-cultural conditions.

This leads, in particular, to the formation of dialects (oral non-standard versions of the standard language, common in some areas), Pidgin (reduced compared to the standard language, created by the commercial or military necessity, in certain areas, understandable for people who speak different languages) and Creole (standardized languages formed in certain regions, based on the mixing of local languages with European or other languages of the colonizers).

Everywhere among the linguistic groups, there is a tendency to impede the invasion of alien elements in their native language and to respect traditional norms in their sometimes unnatural and not always equally successful attempts to resist the natural processes of variation.

Forgetting their native language, the displacement of some other language with a specific person and the extinction of a language minority differences between humans and impoverishes human existence.

These processes have a negative impact on the consciousness of the individual. In a situation of full bilingualism indigenous minorities living in other country which has a high status and supported by the national-linguistic development, bilingualism is within reachable, and occurs often.

In conclusion it is worth saying that bilingualism is considered to be both positive and negative features of society. It is very important to define the position of bilingualism in political sphere.

Sometimes languages can be disregarded by government and as a result there can be the confrontation between the minorities living in the country. Another negative feature is also stuttering when people can speak neither of languages in proper way and that is why they can confuse some moments.

It would be appropriate to say that bilingualism has a positive impact on children. They can develop their personality using the knowledge of both cultures. In addition it is very good to start learning language from the very childhood.


Bialystok E. (2001). Bilingualism in Development: Language, Literacy, and Cognition. Cambridge University Press; 1 edition

Mccardle Peggy D. , Hoff E. (2006). Childhood Bilingualism: Research on Infancy Through School Age (Child Language and Child Development). Multilingual Matters Limited; 1 edition

Myers-Scotton C. (2005). Multiple Voices: An Introduction to Bilingualism. Wiley-Blackwell

Romaine S. (1995). Bilingualism (Language in Society). Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition

Yule G. (2005). The Study of Language. Cambridge University Press; 3 edition

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