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Decontextualized language production in two languages: An investigation of children's word definition skills in Korean and English



This study aimed to identify factors that contribute to bilingual children's decontextualized language production and investigate how schooling experience and bilingualism affect the development of this skill. The word definition skills of seventy Korean–English bilingual children whose first language was Korean, yet who had been schooled in English, were analyzed. The findings indicate that contrary to the results from previous studies, the participants' decontextualized language production was much better in their home language than in their school language, when considering both the formal linguistic structure and the communicative adequacy of their word definitions. In addition, limited cross-language transfer across tasks was present and cross-language contribution was observed only in the children's ability to achieve communicative adequacy, but not in their ability to construct conventional definition syntax. The results are discussed in terms of the linguistic and typological distance between the two languages and the potential effects of language-learning contexts.


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ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Jennifer Yusun Kang, Department of English Education, Korea University, Sungbook-Ku Anam-Dong 5-ka, Seoul, Korea. E-mail:


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Decontextualized language production in two languages: An investigation of children's word definition skills in Korean and English



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