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Do parents provide a helping hand to vocabulary development in bilingual children?

  • Valery LIMIA (a1), Şeyda ÖZÇALIŞKAN (a1) and Erika HOFF (a2)

Abstract

Monolingual children identify referents uniquely in gesture before they do so with words, and parents translate these gestures into words. Children benefit from these translations, acquiring the words that their parents translated earlier than the ones that are not translated. Are bilingual children as likely as monolingual children to identify referents uniquely in gesture; and do parental translations have the same positive impact on the vocabulary development of bilingual children? Our results showed that the bilingual children – dominant in English or in Spanish – were as likely as monolingual children to identify referents uniquely in gesture. More importantly, the unique gestures, when translated into words by the parents, were as likely to enter bilingual and monolingual children's speech – independent of language dominance. Our results suggest that parental response to child gesture plays as crucial of a role in the vocabulary development of bilingual children as it does in monolingual children.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding Author. Valery Limia, MA, Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, PO Box 5010, Atlanta, GA 30302. E-mail: vmateo2@student.gsu.edu

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