The term ‘receptive bilingualism/multilingualism’ is used for diverse populations, all of which understand a
language without producing speech in it, but differ in the way this receptive ability was achieved and in the linguistic knowledge
underlying it. In previous studies, not enough attention is given to the differences between types of receptive bilinguals (RBs);
however, a thorough analysis of all types is necessary to understand the nature of receptive bilingualism and, consequently,
language comprehension and production in general.
I propose a classification of RBs based on the presence and nature of an acquisition process that led to receptive
abilities. In this classification, RBs who comprehend a language mutually intelligible with one they know are distinguished from
RBs with acquired knowledge. Within the former, RBs with and without previous exposure are distinguished. Within acquired types,
RBs who comprehend a heritage language are distinguished from RBs who comprehend a second/foreign language.
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