5. Bilingualism/Multilingualism and Second-Language Acquisition

  1. Tej K. Bhatia and
  2. William C. Ritchie
  1. Yuko Goto Butler

Published Online: 3 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332382.ch5

The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition

The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition

How to Cite

Butler, Y. G. (2012) Bilingualism/Multilingualism and Second-Language Acquisition, in The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, Second Edition (eds T. K. Bhatia and W. C. Ritchie), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118332382.ch5

Editor Information

  1. Syracuse University, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 OCT 2012
  2. Published Print: 7 NOV 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334906

Online ISBN: 9781118332382



  • bilingualism;
  • first language (L1) acquisition;
  • language proficiency;
  • multilingualism;
  • second-language acquisition (SLA)


Bilingualism and multilingualism are highly complex and multidimensional linguistic, psychological, and social behaviors. This chapter discusses the key issues at the intersection of bilingualism, multilingualism, and second language (L2) acquisition. Growing interest in multilingual acquisition in recent years has challenged some of the existing approaches and premises that heretofore were widely accepted in bilingualism and second-language acquisition (SLA) research. The chapter starts by defining bilingualism/multilingualism and looking at the variability and complexity of their characteristics as they are nested in wider social contexts. It then discusses the related theoretical, methodological, and applied issues that contribute to the understanding of bilingual/multilingual acquisition. The chapter focuses on three major issues in SLA: the construct of language proficiency; the effect of age of exposure to L2 acquisition and additional language acquisition; and cross-linguistic influences among languages. It finally discusses the influence of, first language (L1) that has gained substantial attention in SLA.