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PSYC 341
Richard Koestner

RD2 Bilingual Acquisition Bilingual First Language Acquisition - Major question in BFLA studies and focus of the review: whether the development in BFL learners is the same as that of monolinguals - Underlying theoretical issue of whether children’s ability to learn language is challenged during the simultaneous acquisition of 2 languages History of BFLA studies - Ronjat’s study (1913): his son showed progress in both languages and showed little confusion  lack of confusion attributed to both parents’ use of only one language with him - Leopold (1949): interpreted his daughter’s use of words from both languages as confusion; concern for strain on the child’s language learning capacity - Concerns about BFLA: impaired cognitive, linguistic development, risk for academic failure or delay, risk of becoming socio-cultural misfits The Development of Two Languages Simultaneously - Early studies emphasize the unitary language system hypothesis (Leopold, Volterra & Taeschner) - Main issue: do the 2 languages develop autonomously or interdependently? - Research now focuses on comparing the development of bilingual children with that of monolingual children acquiring the same languages. Morphosyntax - Widespread agreement that BFL learners acquire language specific properties of the target languages early in development  show similar patterns in performance as monolinguals o 2-3 y.o. Eng-Fr bilinguals:  Use finite verbs earlier in French than in English  Use subject pronouns in French exclusively with finite verbs but subject pronouns in for both finite and non-finite verbs in English  Placed verbal negatives after lexical verbs in French (n’aime pas) but before lexical verbs in English (do not like) - Bilingual children and monolinguals both exhibit the same rate of morphosyntactic development (at least in their dominant language) - this also applies to children with language impairments: Fr-Eng bilingual children and monolingual English and French children of the same age had the same degree of impairment - evidence of cross-linguistic transfer of specific morphosyntactic features from language to another o Australian children learning Eng and German simultaneously used –verb-object word order much more when speaking German than monolingual German speakers o (Germans use both –VO and –OV word order, English use –VO order - Children are more likely to incorporate components of their dominant language into their weaker language Lexicon - Both bilingual and monolinguals produce their first word at 12-13months - Both have similar rates of vocab acquisition - Both have similar distribution of lexical categories (noun, verb) in early language development Monolingual Bilingual Do they follow the principle of Mutual exclusivity (new words refer to new referents)? Yes No. they acquire translation equivalents at a high rate from young age (after 1y.o.) Suggests that they have 2 distinct lexical systems and they show different patterns in prosodic and segmental phonological Development Language differentiation Yes. By 4.5 months if the 2 languages belong Study with 4 month olds exposed to Spanish to different rhythmic groups and Catalan have similar differentiation abilities  reduced exposure to each language does not delay this ability in bilinguals Speech perception Infants recognize phonetic contrasts that are Go through similar reorganization in speech not phonemic in their native language, their perception but later than monolinguals by at discrimination abilities become language least 12 months specific during the first year of life Ability to use phonetic contrasts Early. Able to associate new words that differ Delayed; 20 months by minimal consonant contrast (bih—dih) with novel shapes at 17months - Whether/when BFL children have 2 language specific segmental phonological repertoires is not clear (varying results; have not reached a conclusion yet) - Variability in phonological development of BFL learners linked to o General developmental factors and individual differences o Factors specific to BFL learners: limited exposure to/practice with each language, asynchronous development that reflects normal language specific differences, cross- linguist
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