Berlin Interdisciplinary Network for Multilingualism (BIVEM)

The Berlin Interdisciplinary Network for Multilingualism (BIVEM) was founded in 2011 by the Leibniz Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) and funded by the Berlin Senate. Two long-term studies were carried out, investigating factors influencing the language development of multilingual children of kindergarten and primary school age. These include different language support measures, the first language, the length of exposure as well as the age at the beginning of language exposure have on the language development of multilingual kindergarten and primary school children are investigated.

In 2016, after the end of funding by the Berlin Senate, the network became an integral part of the ZAS. It has developed into a nationwide network offering scientists and practitioners from the fields of multilingualism, language acquisition, language support and language diagnostics a platform for the exchange of experiences and encounters. This enables a mutual transfer between science and practice. BIVEM offers various services for parents and pedagogical specialists who work with multilingual children, e.g. information materials (flyer series) in several languages, information and training events as well as advice on multilingual education and language acquisition in general.

More information can be found on the BIVEM webpage.

Research topics

The BIVEM study, initiated in 2012, analyzed the effectiveness of language support in multilingual children who have received this support starting at ages 2 or 3, as well as whether a significant difference in the effectiveness of additive (child-directed) or integrative (teacher-directed) approaches to language support exists. More than 160 bilingual children from over 20 preschools (Kitas) in Berlin with either Russian or Turkish as their home language participated in the study. In the additive approach, the children received language support from external personnel in small groups, while the integrative approach trained pre-school teachers to provide language support throughout the day. The control group consisted of children who received the language support already provided by their preschool. 

In particular, we investigated:

  • The impact of the age of onset and length of exposure to L2, as well as the impact of the home language on L2 development
  • The effectiveness of different approaches to language support
  • The impact of the age at which language support began
  • The differences between monolingual and bilingual children.