Exploring the Impact of Bilingualism in Early Life on Foreign Language Learning for University Students in Lebanon Theoretical Foundations: Part I

Ghada M. Chehimi, Hussin J. Hejase


Bilingualism and multilingualism have long fascinated linguists, educators, and researchers due to their potential effects on cognitive, linguistic, and educational development. This study, part of two, explores how growing up in a bilingual or multilingual environment impacts foreign language learning abilities, focusing on university students in Beirut, Lebanon. The investigation sheds light on whether being born into such language-rich contexts confers advantages in acquiring additional languages, specifically English as a Foreign Language (EFL). This research follows a quantitative, deductive, and positivist approach. A sample of 153 Lebanese university students pursuing different majors was selected conveniently based on the participant's willingness to participate. The research tool is a questionnaire constituting four sections that include knowledge questions addressing different sets of attitudinal statements characterizing the students’ and their parents’ status, home habits, background, and practices of the English language; the attitude of students toward the English language along the three dimensions of Towers-Perrin-ISR model; the family’s attachment to books, and demographics of the participants and their parents. Questions and statements were dyadic, multiple choice, four-level, and five-level Likert scales. Collected data were analyzed using the IBM SPSS version 26.0 package. Data analysis used descriptive, factor, and linear regression analyses. However, this paper, part 1 of 2, provides the theoretical background necessary to carry out the quantitative part. In this paper, the introduction and the literature review include an in-depth exposition of bilingualism in Lebanon, the status of English language teaching, the Towers Perrin-ISR model, and related empirical review of schooling, parents’ and teachers’ roles, and bilingualism in tertiary education. Findings contribute to both theoretical and practical domains. Theoretically, the study offers insights into the relationship between early language exposure and subsequent language acquisition. The outcomes inform EFL teaching methods, curriculum design, and language policy initiatives in multilingual societies like Lebanon.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jsel.v12i1.21684


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