"Applied Linguistics assumes L1 and L2 as givens. Why shouldn't a child have two first languages?"

The Bilingualism Special Interest Group (SIG) is made up of around 200 JALT members and subscribers, many of whom are raising or teaching bilingual children.

Our aim is to further research on bilingualism as it occurs in Japan. We also promote mutual support among our members through our bi-monthly newsletter, academic publications, and an active email list.

Parents in international marriages, people who communicate in more than one language, and teachers of multilingual students all take advantage of the practical and theoretical information available via our group.



The word “bilingual” means many things to many people. We intend it as an umbrella term to refer to individuals and groups who use two (or more) languages on a regular basis, and who consequently have some claim to multiple cultures. The way such people process and use language is the focus of our research. As parents we are also deeply concerned with fostering minority language educational opportunities for our children. 






Some of our ongoing research topics include;

  • Family policies towards bilingualism
  • Bilingual and bicultural identity
  • Codeswitching and language mixing
  • Bilingual language acquisition







Our group aims to;

  1. encourage bilingualism research projects and the wider dissemination of findings by organizing an extensive network of researchers and willing bilingual participants
  2. promote awareness of current developments of interest to these overlapping communicties
  3. provide a base for mutual support among the group's members.

Members receive a copy of our newsletter, Bilingual Japan, three times a year. Each issue contains articles reflecting the diversity of bilingualism studies in Japan. A free inspection copy is available from the editor, York Weatherford at yorkweatherford(a)mac.com. We also put out scholarly publications including journals and monographs.

Our journal, The Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism, is published annually and contains numerous research articles and book reviews. We also publish monographs concerning practical issues related to bilingual parenting in Japan.  

At the annual JALT conference, we sponsor a panel based on some practical aspect of bilingualism, and our members give a variety of presentations on their current research. In addition, we hold an informal banquet, which has proven to be a fantastic opportunity for parents to meet others in similar situations.

We also put on a variety of other informative talks and events throughout the year, including joint events with local JALT Chapters. Please contact us if you would like one of our members to talk to your group on bilingualism.







The Bilingualism SIG offers parents an excellent way to meet others who are raising their children in two languages. Join our Facebook group or send a question to our email discussion list by contacting Stephen Ryan at the following email address:



None of us is such an expert that we have all the answers, but by joining the Bilingualism SIG, you will be sure to find someone who can sympathize with your position and offer advice when you need it. 




Website editor

Lance Stilp

lancestilp at gmail dot com

© 2018 by JALT Bilingualism SIG

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