Interactions between input factors in bilingual language acquisition

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This chapter synthesizes findings from research on relationships between language input and language development in bilingual children, and highlights a context in which the ability to manipulate input factors to promote bilingual acquisition takes on increased urgency, namely in language maintenance and revitalization. Indeed, child bilinguals are considered the key to language survival. We present a brief overview of major input factors and how their interactions affect children’s ability to become bilingual. Using nine major factors from UNESCO guidelines for assessing language vitality (UNESCO 2011), we describe the contrasting linguistic, cultural, and economic circumstances in Brazil and Guyana where an endangered Amazonian language, Wapichana, is spoken. A project in northern Brazil linking documentation for language preservation and education for language revitalization is evaluated for its potential to expand the domains in which Wapichana can continue to play a role in the life of the community and reverse the process of language shift that has recently taken hold at a faster pace in Brazil than in Guyana.


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