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PSYC 341
Richard Koestner

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Bilingual children with specific language impairment: Theoretical and applied  issues - Bilingualism is often considered an inappropriate developmental choice for children with specific language impairment (LSI) = limited capacity for language would be overtaxed - BUT: no adequate empirical investigation - Two opposing perspectives – different predictions Attitudes towards bilingualism – research review - TD: typically developing = attitudes shifted accepting bilingualism in childhood for TD - LSI: widespread negative attitude about children with LSI learning two languages (based on common sense rather than on evidence) - WHY to study bilingualism and LSI: the mechanism causing LSI - LSI = a developmental language disorder that has no readily identifiable etiology o Typical social-emotional development, hearing and speech abilities, IQ within the normal limits o Language abilities significantly below age expectations Two main perspectives:  different predictions for the outcome of bilingual children with LSI 1. Cognitive/ perceptual processing accounts - Children affected with LSI have deficits in some basic cognitive and perceptual processing mechanism, which cause profound difficulties learning language and also have effects in nonlinguistic cognition - The generalized slowing hypothesis: processing-limitation account that claims children with SLI have a generalized deceleration of their ability to intake, store, and access linguistic information (Miller, 2001) - SLI children need much more time on task to process information - If SLI children learn two languages – would show delays not only compared to monolingual unaffected age peers in each language, but also compared to monolingual age peers with SLI - Decelerated processing mechanism would have twice as much linguistic information to deal with in the same amount of exposure time as monolinguals - Surface hypothesis: children with SLI find less phonetically salient morphemes more difficult to acquire because these children have perceptual in addition to processing limitations 2. Linguistic representational accounts - SLI children have selective deficits within the domain of linguistic representation itself - The criteria determining these deficits can be expressed in terms of domain- specific linguistic complexity alone and need not to be derived from extralinguistic, domain-general cognition and perception - Children with SLI show overall delay in their language development compared to TD peers, but also show pernicious difficulties with individual linguistic structures that go beyond what their general delay would indicate - Disrupted structures = those that require certain linguistic computations for which children with SLI have incomplete or faulty abilities to establish the appropriate representation (morphology marking the grammatical feature tense in English) - Even if a child with SLI was learning two languages, this would not necessarily change their proficiency - The mechanism causing the difficulty with these particular linguistic structures is internal to linguistic representation, and therefore, the reduced input a bilingual child receives in each language compared with monolinguals would not impact on their (in)ability to represent the structure 3. Tense marking morphemes in bilinguals and monolinguals with SLI - Tense marking morphology is acquired very late by English-speaking children with LSI, more severe difficulties than morphology that does not mark tense (nontense) - Processing account: i. Bilinguals with SLI will lag behind monolinguals with SLI in their accuracy both tense and nontense morphemes – they have reduced exposure to each language – should be less advanced linguistically across the board ii. Any uneven profile between tense and nontense grammatical morphemes displayed by children with SLI should be explainable by differences in perceptual salience. - Representational account: i. There would be no reason to predict that bilinguals with SLI would be delayed compared to monolingual age peers with SLI in their accuracy with tense morphemes – source of the problem with these morphemes is internal to the linguistic system ii. Both bilingual and monolingual children with SLI would perform worse than their age-matched TD peers for their accuracy with tense morphemes, but not necessarily for nontense morphemes because the latter are not disrupted structures/ clinical markers iii. Both bilingual and monolingual children with SLI would be less accurate with tense than nontense morphemes because of the former`s status as clinical markers, and that extralinguistic factors like perceptual salience would not play a role in determining this pattern. Paradis, at al. (2000) - Whereas TD monolinguals had scores at ceiling in bot
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