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The Arrival of a Very Young Child in an Environment Where He/She Must Learn a Second Language


  • This is called consecutive (or successive) early bilingualism.
  • The child already has a first language and learns a second early in childhood; for example, because the child moved to an environment where the dominant language is not his native language. This generally produces a strong bilingualism (or additive bilingualism). However, the child must be given time to learn this second language because the second language is learned at the same time as the child learns to speak.
  • To learn the second language sufficiently to interact socially, the child will need one to three years. This would correspond to the everyday language needed to function in a group game or at a daycare, for example.
  • To learn the second language sufficiently to function in school, one should allow five to seven years. This is to learn language used in school, which is more abstract and allows for learning to learn.