Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 October 2019
Despite the importance of understanding the narrative abilities of bilingual children, minimal research has focused on Spanish–English bilingual preschoolers. Therefore, this study examined the cross-language macrostructure and within-language microstructure relations in the English and Spanish narratives of bilingual preschoolers and examined whether language dominance impacted these relations. Narratives were elicited from 200 preschool-aged children of Latino heritage. Microstructure measures included the number of different words, the mean length of utterance in words, and the subordination index. The narrative scoring scheme measured macrostructure (Heilmann, Miller, Nockerts, & Dunaway, 2010). Using standardized language testing of expressive vocabulary and sentence comprehension, the children were classified into two groups: balanced dominance and Spanish dominant. Results revealed that English macrostructure and Spanish macrostructure were not related after controlling for microstructure measures within languages. Children’s microstructure abilities in each language were strongly related to their macrostructure abilities within that language. Dominance did not moderate these relations. Consistent with previous research on school-age children, vocabulary was a unique predictor of macrostructure production. This study highlights the additional importance of utterance length within both languages to macrostructure during the preschool years. The absence of unique cross-language macrostructure relations and the absence of dominance group moderation may have been due to the immaturity of the children’s narratives.
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