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In few words: linguistic gap but adequate narrative structure in preschool bilingual children*



The aim of this study was to compare linguistic and narrative skills of monolingual and bilingual preschoolers and to estimate linguistic predictors of the macro-structural level of narratives. A battery of linguistic measures in Italian was administered to sixty-four Monolinguals and sixty-four Early Bilinguals; it included Vocabulary, Phonological Awareness, Morphosyntactic Comprehension, Phonological Memory, Letter Knowledge, and Story Sequencing tasks. The narratives produced in the Story Sequencing task were coded. Bilinguals underachieved, compared to monolinguals, in vocabulary, phonological awareness and morphosyntactic comprehension; they also differed in Type and Token indexes and in free morphology, but not in the level of macro-structural complexity. Macro-structural parameters were predicted by Mean Length of Utterances in monolinguals, but not in bilinguals. Bilingual children are able to structure stories in their L2 with monolingual-like cohesive complexity, although ‘in few words', that is, with weak L2 linguistic skills.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr. Paola Bonifacci, PhD, Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Bologna, Viale Berti Pichat n.5, 40127 Bologna. tel: 051 2091824; fax: 051 243086; e-mail:


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The authors thank the Bologna City Council (Dr Gabriele Ventura and Dr Patrizia Serra) for promoting the LOGOS project in kindergartens in the Bologna city area.



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