Language skills in young bilingual children are highly varied as a result of the variability in their language experiences, making it difficult for speech-language pathologists to differentiate language disorder from language difference in bilingual children. Understanding the sources of variability in bilingual contexts and the resulting variability in children's skills will help improve language assessment practices by speech-language pathologists. In this article, we review literature on bilingual first language development for children under 5 years of age. We describe the rate of development in single and total language growth, we describe effects of quantity of input and quality of input on growth, and we describe effects of family composition on language input and language growth in bilingual children. We provide recommendations for language assessment of young bilingual children and consider implications for optimizing children's dual language development.
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