Using Main as a Tool to Access and Evaluate Grammatical Knowledge in a Weaker Language: a Case of Swedish-Russian Bilingual Children Who Attend Mother Tongue Instruction

  • Natalia Ringblom Stockholm University
Keywords: MAIN; bilingual children; morpho-syntax; weaker language, narrative task; Russian; Swedish; mother tongue instruction, Sweden


The purpose of this chapter is to show how MAIN (Gagarina et al., 2012) can be used as assessment instrument for testing grammatical knowledge in young bilingual children, with special focus on identifying bilingual features in the weaker language’s morpho-syntax, that can be qualitatively different than in monolingual acquisition and thus needs a different educational approach. It is important for parents and educators to be aware of the underlying problems of the bilingual children's language abilities in order to give them adequate and effective assistance. In order to do this, they need an instrument that is easy to administer and use. MAIN has all the prerequisites of being such an instrument but not in its present form. In order for MAIN to be used in teaching, a shorter version should be developed.

Eleven Swedish-Russian bilingual children, aged 6-12 years and living in the Stockholm area, were the subjects of this study and provide new data that enables us to gain fundamentally new insights into the process of bilingual language acquisition in the situation when one of the languages is dominant, while the other is weaker and requires, therefore, as much support as possible. Such support can only be given in formal teaching, and home language classes can be seen as the most appropriate platform for providing such instruction.


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Ringblom, N. (2016). Using Main as a Tool to Access and Evaluate Grammatical Knowledge in a Weaker Language: a Case of Swedish-Russian Bilingual Children Who Attend Mother Tongue Instruction. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, (20(1), 174-193. Retrieved from