Bilingualism is not a categorical variable: Interaction between language proficiency and usage.


Bilingual experience is dynamic and poses a challenge for researchers to develop instruments that capture its relevant dimensions. The present study examined responses from a questionnaire administered to 110 heterogeneous bilingual young adults. These questions concern participants’ language use, acquisition history and self-reported proficiency. The questionnaire responses and performances on standardized English proficiency measures were analyzed using factor analysis. In order to retain a realistic representation of bilingual experience, the factors were allowed to correlate with each other in the analysis. Two correlating factors were extracted, representing daily bilingual usage and English proficiency. These two factors were also related to self-rated proficiency in English and non-English language. Results were interpreted as supporting the notion that bilingual experience is composed of multiple related dimensions that will need to be considered in assessments of the consequences of bilingualism.

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Last updated on 08/03/2015