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Acquiring Multiple Languages


About This Course

This course will introduce basic issues involving bilingual and multilingual acquisition, especially in young children. It will address the promises and challenges of bilingualism and multilingualism in the child on the basis of recent research results from both linguistics and developmental psychology.


  • Present an introductory foundation for different groups of people interested in this field such as parents, teachers, caretakers, and researchers among others.
  • Create awareness of some issues and challenges involved in multilingualism acquisition e.g., myths about multilingualism, what does it mean to be bilingual/multilingual, dual language immersion programs.
  • Introduce several research studies from the fields of language acquisition and developmental psychology.
  • For educators, this course can be integrated and used to supplement pre-existing courses.

Course Staff

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Barbara Lust

Dr Lust received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from City University of New York. Graduate Center after earlier studies at L'Institut des Sciences de l'Education, at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She followed this with postdoctoral study in linguistics and philosophy at MIT before coming to Cornell. Her research is framed in an interdisciplinary and cross-linguistic framework, involving the study of first, second and multilingual language acquisition, especially in the child, and links theoretical paradigms of linguistic inquiry to experimental methods of research.

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Carissa Kang

Carissa graduated with a PhD in Developmental Psychology at Cornell where she studied how bilingual language acquisition influenced children's cognitive development. She is now working as a User Experience Researcher at YouTube Kids.

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María del Mar Gutiérrez

María earned a master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University. Her dissertation focused on the acquisition of English by Spanish students enrolled in a bilingual program. She currently works as a High School teacher of English as a Foreign language in Spain.

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Shohini Bhattasali

Shohini is a PhD student in Linguistics at Cornell with a minor in Cognitive Science. She studies different issues in syntax and pragmatics using computational models and neuroimaging methods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course for?

This course is geared towards anyone who is interested in learning more about bilingualism and multilingualism, ranging from parent to researcher.

How much background knowledge do I need?

This course has been designed such that you do not need any previous knowledge. However, we do include a list of additional resources in the course if you would like to pursue further advanced readings in this area.