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MAPLE: A Multilingual Approach to Parent Language Estimates


Bilingual infants vary in when, how, and how often they hear each of their languages. Variables such as the particular languages of exposure, the community context, the onset of exposure, the amount of exposure, and socioeconomic status are crucial for describing any bilingual infant sample. Parent report is an effective approach for gathering data about infants’ language experience. However, its quality is highly dependent on how information is elicited. This paper introduces a Multilingual Approach to Parent Language Estimates (MAPLE). MAPLE promotes best practices for using structured interviews to reliably elicit information from parents on bilingual infants’ language background, with an emphasis on the challenging task of quantifying infants’ relative exposure to each language. We discuss sensitive issues that must be navigated in this process, including diversity in family characteristics and cultural values. Finally, we identify six systematic effects that can impact parent report, and strategies for minimizing their influence.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Krista Byers-Heinlein, E-mail:


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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
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