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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 17 - The Development of Cognitive-Linguistic Skills in Multilingual Learners: A Perspective of Northern Sotho–English Children

from III - Language Interfaces


The importance of developing English skills early in contexts where it is to be used as medium of instruction is well documented, but there has been little systematic research in South Africa to determine whether the early introduction of English leads to balanced bilingual learners. This chapter focuses on the acquisition profiles of, and interrelationship between skills in, a sample of Northern Sotho–English bilingual children. Within this sample, one group received their schooling in Northern Sotho (their home language), with English being taught as a first additional language from Grade 1. The other group received their schooling in English from Grade 1, with Northern Sotho being taught as first additional language. Receptive vocabulary and phonological awareness were assessed in both languages. Correlational analysis of the data suggests that some linguistic skills are interrelated and transferable between Northern Sotho and English, despite the structural differences between these languages, whereas others are more dependent on instruction and not automatically transferable.

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