Bilingual children are a more heterogenous group than their monolingual counterparts with respect to the sources of variation in their language learning environments, as well as the wide individual variation in their language abilities. Such heterogeneity in both individual difference factors and language abilities argues for the importance of an individual differences approach in research on bilingual development. The main objective of this article is to provide a review and synthesis of research on the sources of individual differences in the second language (L2) and heritage language (HL) development of child bilinguals. Several child-internal and child-external individual difference factors are discussed with respect to their influence on children’s dual language abilities. In addition, the emergent research on individual differences in bilingual children with developmental language disorder is reviewed. Both the theoretical and applied relevance of individual difference approaches to bilingual development are discussed.
Child language acquisition