Language acquisition in a bilingual setting in children and metalinguistic awareness in children 

Luca is born into a German/ Portuguese family, her dad speaks German and her mum speaks Portuguese. (mono, bili, multili) Luca started at a German-English kindergarten when she was about one year old. (FLA (First Language Acquisition); SLA (Second Language Acquisition); time of acquisition) Luca is exposed to German at home with her dad, to Portuguese at home with her mum as well as with her babysitter who she has bonded with, to German and English at kindergarten with educators and peers (comprehensible input). Luca is two years old now and her language development is constantly progressing in all languages mentioned before. She understands a lot that is being said to her and she starts to respond more by expressing herself verbally (performance vs. competence). The language she uses to communicate her interests and needs (at kindergarten) is not yet clear to identify most of the times. It seems like Luca choses German over English in many situations and seems to use German as her main language of communication at kindergarten. (FLA; SLA, status of a language, success of language acquisition). She tries to use English when interacting with the English educator or English speaking children which oftentimes is not clear to understand and sounds like a mix of English and Portuguese (language transfer).

Age: 27 months

Home language:German & Portuguese

Additional language spoken: English

Human beings are social beings and need language in order to communicate. Language development is triggered in children as they encounter many situations in their early life where they need language in order to reach a certain goal or meet a certain end.  

In our case study Luca we describe how Luca’s brain starts to build a connection between a stimulus (e.g. the sound of a word) and a response (practical reaction).

  • How do I know which is Luca’s first language or second language?  

  • How does Luca feel?  

  • What would be the next steps for the educators? 

  • Which educator is Luca bonding with? How can the educator strengthen the bond? What are the hopes for the parents (language expectation)? 

  • How could the educators support her language development in both languages (English/German)? What could they do? 

  • What language is Luca’s bonded teacher speaking?  

  • If there is a concern here about English being unclear – then how can the educators support this development?