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Receptive vocabulary differences in monolingual and bilingual children*

  • ELLEN BIALYSTOK (a1), GIGI LUK (a2), KATHLEEN F. PEETS (a3) and SUJIN YANG (a4)

Abstract

Studies often report that bilingual participants possess a smaller vocabulary in the language of testing than monolinguals, especially in research with children. However, each study is based on a small sample so it is difficult to determine whether the vocabulary difference is due to sampling error. We report the results of an analysis of 1,738 children between 3 and 10 years old and demonstrate a consistent difference in receptive vocabulary between the two groups. Two preliminary analyses suggest that this difference does not change with different language pairs and is largely confined to words relevant to a home context rather than a school context.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Ellen Bialystok, Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada ellenb@yorku.ca

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*

This work was partially supported by grant R01HD052523 from the US National Institutes of Health and by grant A2559 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to the first author. We thank Jessica Cheung and Michael Bonares for their assistance in data compilation.

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References

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1366-7289
  • EISSN: 1469-1841
  • URL: /core/journals/bilingualism-language-and-cognition
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