Linguistic and geographic diversity in research on second language acquisition and multilingualism: An analysis of selected journals

Emanuel Bylund , Zainab Khafif & Robyn Berghoff
Applied Linguistics, 2023-05-25


The present study assesses linguistic and geographic diversity in selected outlets of SLA and multilingualism research. Specifically, we examine over 2,000 articles published in specialized top-tier journals, recording the languages under study and their acquisition order, author affiliations, the country in which the research was conducted, and citations. In the sample, there were 183 unique languages and 174 unique pairings, corresponding to 3 per cent of the world’s 7,000 languages and less than 0.001 per cent of 24.5 million possible language combinations. English was overwhelmingly the most common language, followed by Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. North America and Western Europe were both the main producers of knowledge and the main sites for research on multilingualism in the sample. Crucially, the regions with the highest levels of linguistic diversity and societal multilingualism (typically the Global South) were only marginally represented. The findings also show that studies on English and northern Anglophone settings were likely to elicit more citations than studies on other languages and settings, and that less studied languages were included more frequently in article titles.
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