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Reading 4

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McGill University
PSYC 341
Richard Koestner

READING 4 The relationship between bilingual exposure and vocabulary development Ellin Thordardottir Abstract • Study of relationship between amount of bilingual exposure and performance in receptive and expressive vocabulary in French and English • Studied 5-yr old MTL monolingual children and those who learned French and English simultaneously o They differed in amount of exposure received to each language • Strong relationship found between exposure to language and performance in that language o Simultaneous learners did as well as monolinguals on receptive vocabulary when had same exposure, which is contrary to previous research that showed deficit in simultaneous learners o Simultaneous learners needed more exposure than monolinguals to match them in expressive vocabulary • Early and late onset bilingual exposure did not differ n vocabulary measures as long as overall exposure was equal Introduction • The more languages you learn at once, the less time you can devote to a single language • language development of bilingual children is often subject to inaccuracies and flawed clinical and educational decisions because how much the rate of development differs from monolingual children is not well understood • previous studies show that bilingual children have less vocabulary than monolingual children when looking at a specific language, but their total vocabulary across the two languages on average was higher than that of monolingual children • Conceptual Vocabulary: the number of referent the child has a label for regardless of the language o Has said to be comparable in bilingual and monolingual children o Other studies report that it depends on the children’s exposure pattern, and more likely to occur in bilingual children with one dominant language • Vocabulary Gap: a finding suggesting vocabulary lags behind more than grammatical development in bilingual children o Vocabulary is particularly dependent on output because it must be learned word by word while grammatical rules are more generally applicable • In the USA bilingual children are more likely to come from low-SES homes, and speak the minority status language at home o Hard to untangle these effects from sheer amount of exposure • This study was done in Montreal, where bilingualism differs quite greatly than in the USA- French and English are both valued and given prominent exposure Study Design • Large group of children within limited age range (4-5) o Equal on SES and nonverbal cognition, but differed in pattern of exposure to French and English • Curve-fitting analysis used to explore relative amount of exposure to each language and proficiency in that language for bilingual children o Expressed as z-scores relative to performance of monolingual children • All children received first regular bilingual experience before age of 3 o Early onset- before 6 months o Late onset- after 20 months Methods Participants • 84 children: 19 exposed only to French, 16 exposed only to English o 49 exposed to both French and English  20 more exposed to French than English  16 more exposure to English  13 roughly equal exposure • None had significant exposure to any other languages • All had normal language and general development • Used a continuum of exposure for bilingual children rather than discrete groups Bilingual Language Exposure • Bilingual children’s exposure to each language assessed using detailed questionnaire from previous study • For the majority of children, bilingualism first introduced at daycare Procedures • Children were tested individually in lab setting or at daycare by trained research assistants (native speakers of French tested French, and same with English) • Bilingual children were tested on each language by different examiners in separate sessions • Tests measuring receptive vocabulary used picture plates with 4 pictures- child matches word they hear to photo o Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT) and it’s French adaptation, Épreuve de Vocabulaire en Images Peabody (EVIP) • Another receptive measure focused on comprehension of basic relational concepts of size, direction, position in space, quantity, and time by picture pointing o Boehm Test of Basic Concepts/Test des Concepts de Base de Boehm • Expressive vocabulary measures targeted nouns, verbs, colours, and shapes o Vocabulary subtest of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals- Preschool (CELF-P) and Nouvelles épreuves pour l’examen du langage (N-EEL) Results • Expressive vocabulary: As relative amount of exposure to English increases (and relative amount of exposure to French decreases), English scores increase, and French scores decreases • At low levels of exposure to French, performance of receptive vocabulary increases rapidly with increased French exposure o BUT once a relative amount of approx. 40-60% of exposure to French is reached, increased amount of French exposure produces relatively little increase • Performance on English Boehm (receptive measure focusing on basic concepts) increases rapidly until exposure gets to 40-60% but then tapers off o However for Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT), expressive measures increase fairly linearly • Children having spent
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