An inquiry into language uses of bilingual primary school children

Patrizia Cordin (Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia, Università di Trento), Maria Vender (Dipartimento di Culture e Civiltà, Università di Verona)


This paper presents the results of an inquiry into the linguistic biographies of bilingual children of immigrant families. For this purpose, during the school year 2017-18, a questionnaire was administered to parents coming from countries other than Italy of all the children attending the first and second grades of a primary school in the province of Trento. More than 1500 questionnaires were returned, providing a large amount of data on the families’ linguistic practices, the amount and length of exposure of the children to Italian (L2), and the variety of inputs in L1 (the native language) and in L2. The questionnaire, which was divided into nine sections, aimed to collect very precise information about the bilingual child’s exposure to the two languages, including age of first exposure to each language, current quantity and quality of exposure, but also length of exposure. An important aspect emerging from the questionnaires concerns the marked difference between the children’s competence in L1 (low) and L2 (high), and in particular the lack of attention to the literacy component in L1. Because of the large amount of data collected, the questionnaire is not only a diagnostic tool of the linguistic situation of each child, but also a means to support his / her bilingual growth and schooling.

DOI: 10.4424/lam102021-10


Plurilingualism; Trento; Primary School; Bilingual Children; Immigrants.

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