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We examined the relation between maternal responsiveness and children's acquisition of mental and non-mental state vocabulary in 59 pairs of mothers and children aged 10 to 26 months as they engaged in a free-play episode. Children wore a head camera and responsiveness was defined as maternal talk that commented on the child's actions (e.g., when the child reached for or manipulated an object visible in the head camera). As hypothesized, maternal responsiveness correlated with both mental and non-mental state vocabulary acquisition in younger children (approximately 18 months and younger) but not older children. We posit a diminishing role for maternal responsiveness in language acquisition as children grow older.
Parent report data on 82 preschool children with complex neurodevelopmental disabilities including Down syndrome, dyspraxia, autism, and global developmental delay suggests communicative language use must reach a threshold level before vocabulary size becomes the best predictor of word combining. Using the Language Use Inventory and the MacArthur-Bates CDI (with sign vocabulary option), statistical modelling using regression trees and random forests suggests that, despite high linear correlations between variables, (1) pragmatic ability, particularly children's emerging ability to talk about things, themselves and others is a significantly better predictor of the earliest word combining than vocabulary size; and (2) vocabulary size becomes a better predictor of later word combining, once this pragmatic base has been established.
This study examined a potential lexicality advantage in young children's early speech production: do children produce sound sequences less accurately in nonwords than real words? Children aged 3;3-4;4 completed two tasks: a real word repetition task and a corresponding nonword repetition task. Each of the 23 real words had a paired consonant-vowel sequence in the nonword in word-initial position (e.g., ‘su’ in [ˈsutkes] ‘suitcase’ and [ˈsudrɑs]). The word-initial consonant-vowel sequences were kept constant between the paired words. Previous work on this topic compared different sequences of paired sounds, making it hard to determine if those results were due to a lexical or phonetic effect. Our results show that children reliably produced consonant-vowel sequences in real words more accurately than nonwords. The effect was most pronounced in children with smaller receptive vocabularies. Together, these results reinforce theories arguing for interactions between vocabulary size and phonology in language development.
In Chapter 16, the authors point to the four roles of teachers in vocabulary courses and present research-based suggestions for the effective instruction of vocabulary; they also present a case study that investigated teachers’ perceptions about useful vocabulary, followed by principles required for helping learners with desirable vocabulary learning outcomes.
We examined the size, content, and use of evaluative lexis by 26 English monolingual and 20 Spanish–English bilingual 30-month-old children in interaction with their mothers. We extracted the evaluative words, defined as words referring to cognition, volition, or emotion. Controlling for overall vocabulary skills as measured by the MacArthur-Bates inventories, monolinguals had a larger evaluative lexicon than the bilinguals’ Spanish evaluative lexicon, but no difference was found between monolinguals’ and bilinguals’ English evaluative lexicons. There were differences between the monolinguals and bilinguals in the distribution of evaluative words across semantic categories: English monolingual children used more words pertaining to volition and cognition and talked more about volition than the Spanish–English bilingual children. These results suggest that the development of evaluative lexicons is influenced by cultural differences, and consequently, bilingual children, who are also bicultural, follow a different developmental path in both languages from the path followed by their monolingual peers.
This chapter examines vocabulary explanations during Swedish as a second language (L2) lessons for beginner learners in a primary school classroom, attended by 10- to 12-year-old children with immigrant backgrounds. It shows how teachers elaborated word meanings through short narratives and descriptions that demonstrated uses of words to students as prospective users. It argues that vocabulary-related explanations were dynamic activities in which teachers mediated not only linguistic forms but also culturally appropriate meanings and values, ways of thinking and behaving in new communities of practice, and provided affordances for shaping the lifeworlds and identities of the second language learners. The students’ responses reveal that, rather than simply appropriating the teachers’ norms and values, they engaged in a process of actively negotiating, disagreeing, and even resisting the teachers’ narrative exemplifications. The findings show how vocabulary explanations are a locus for socializing children into appropriate language use and cultural membership in the target-language community, attesting to the negotiated and, at times, resistant process of becoming an L2 speaker.
A vocabulary acquisition learning activity was designed and a learning system featuring image-to-text recognition technology to support the activity was developed. The effectiveness of the system with regard to facilitating vocabulary acquisition was tested. The perceptions of learners toward this tool and the affordances of the system for vocabulary acquisition were also explored. To this end, we designed an experiment in which 40 native speakers of Russian learning English as a foreign language from an elementary school participated. They were assigned to either a control condition or an experimental condition. All learners learned new vocabulary in class and then applied their new knowledge to contexts with a realistic simulation of the real world by completing a learning task. The learners in the control group used a traditional approach (e.g. the learners learned vocabulary from corresponding pictures in a textbook), whereas the learners in the experimental group used the proposed learning system (e.g. the learners learned vocabulary using the system). A pre-test–post-test/delayed post-test design was employed to test the effectiveness of the treatment on vocabulary acquisition. Learner perceptions and perceived affordances of the system for vocabulary acquisition were explored through a questionnaire survey and interviews. The quantitative results showed that the learners in the experimental group outperformed their counterparts on both the vocabulary post-test and delayed post-test. The qualitative results revealed that most learners in the experimental group had positive perceptions of the system. In addition, the qualitative results showed the three main categories of affordances. Based on these results, several suggestions and implications are provided for the teaching and research community.
This essay examines the production of Global English through literary texts by examining three adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Gold Bug” in the 1930s by competing figures in the vocabulary control movement—Harold Palmer, Michael West, and C. K. Ogden—leaders in the formation of the field of applied linguistics. The first part of the essay explains the colonial origins of the vocabulary word list and its ascendant value in the interwar period for the new discipline of applied linguistics, and as part of the competition for English language textbooks. This leads to an analysis of these three simplifications of Poe’s story that demonstrates how the language politics in Poe’s story provides a structure through which to express a nascent Global English ideology regarding race, vernacular, and auxiliary languages.
In the introduction I argue that it is difficult to understand how language is acquired, processed or used by examining single words. We immediately run into problems of implausible cognitive processing loads of constructing language word by word and inescapable ambiguity any text must be creating. Thus phraseological approaches to language seem to give more promise. This book focuses on one approach, known as the idiom principle, proposed by John Sinclair. The approach is applied to second language learners of English who are often claimed to be restricted in their ability to operate on the idiom principle. The introduction situates this topic in a broader context of current interests in linguistic and psycholinguistic inquiry and explains how it is related to such concepts as chunking, statistical learning, implicit and explicit processing, ad hoc concepts and L2 or LX user.
The importance of developing English skills early in contexts where it is to be used as medium of instruction is well documented, but there has been little systematic research in South Africa to determine whether the early introduction of English leads to balanced bilingual learners. This chapter focuses on the acquisition profiles of, and interrelationship between skills in, a sample of Northern Sotho–English bilingual children. Within this sample, one group received their schooling in Northern Sotho (their home language), with English being taught as a first additional language from Grade 1. The other group received their schooling in English from Grade 1, with Northern Sotho being taught as first additional language. Receptive vocabulary and phonological awareness were assessed in both languages. Correlational analysis of the data suggests that some linguistic skills are interrelated and transferable between Northern Sotho and English, despite the structural differences between these languages, whereas others are more dependent on instruction and not automatically transferable.
By working through phonological questions using sign language data we arrive at a new understanding of the very nature of phonology, of the very nature of language. This chapter gives a brief historical look into the field from its inception, lays out the reasons why thinking about sign language phonology opens up new ways to understand the nature of language, broadly construed, and provides enough background on the units of word-level phonology in sign languages to see practical and theoretical connections to parallel issues in spoken language phonology.
This chapter examines the process of how diverse societies, each who made Bagamoyo “their own,” came to recognize one another as members of a shared space. It examines the social links, networks, and exchanges which knit together a local identity based on familiarity of place and the inhabitants who dwelled there. Using a variety of cultural categories, such as religion, sports, dance, and town gossip, this chapter explores social phenomena which became part of the community lore that reinforced one’s sense of being Wabagamoyo. While Africans, Asians, and Europeans might be divided by cultural backgrounds, they could all identify themselves as Wabagamoyo through their familiarity with common local references, such as people, places, or events – the town’s shared vocabulary. Such social networks both divided town loyalties and mutually reinforced a sense of local identity. Rivalries in Bagamoyo’s history provided the bread and butter of local gossip, legend, and lore. To be a Bagamoyo “insider” was to know the local personalities and appreciate the history behind the rivalries.
To code-switch or not to code-switch? This is a dilemma for many bilingual language teachers. In this study, the influence of teachers’ CS on bilingual children's language and cognitive development is explored within heritage language (HL) classes in Singapore. Specifically, the relationship between children's language output, vocabulary development, and cognitive flexibility to teachers’ classroom CS behavior, is examined within 20 preschool HL classrooms (10 Mandarin, 6 Malay, and 4 Tamil). Teachers’ and children's utterances were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for CS frequency and type (i.e., inter-sentential, intra-sentential). 173 students were assessed with receptive vocabulary and dimensional card sort tasks, and their vocabulary and cognitive switching scores assessed using correlational and mixed effects analyses. Results show that inter-sentential and intra-sentential CS frequency is positively and significantly related to children's intra-sentential CS frequency. Overall, findings revealed that teachers code-switched habitually more often than for instructional purposes. Neither inter-sentential nor intra-sentential CS was significantly related to children's development in HL vocabulary, and intra-sentential CS was found to positively and significantly relate to children's growth in cognitive flexibility. These findings reveal the multi-faceted impact of teacher's CS on children's early development.
Vocabulary acquisition is a critical part of learning a new language. Yet, due to structural, historical, and individual variability associated with natural languages, isolating the impact of specific factors on word learning can be challenging. Artificial languages are versatile tools for addressing this problem, allowing researchers to systematically manipulate properties of the language and control for learners’ past experiences. Here, we review how artificial languages have been used to study bilingual word learning, with a particular focus on the influences of language input (e.g., word properties) and language experience (e.g., bilingualism). We additionally discuss the advantages and limitations of artificial languages for bilingual research and suggest resources for researchers considering the use of artificial languages. Used and interpreted properly, artificial language studies can inform our understanding of a wide range of factors relevant to word learning.
Vocabulary represents a key barrier to language and literacy development for many English learners. This study examined the relationship between Spanish-speaking English learners’ conceptually scored Spanish–English vocabulary, academic English proficiency, and English reading comprehension. Second- and fourth-grade English learners (N = 62) completed standardized conceptually scored vocabulary measures in the fall and state-administered standardized measures of academic English proficiency and English reading comprehension in the spring. Conceptually scored vocabulary measures are designed to tap knowledge of the number of known concepts, regardless of the specific language (Spanish or English) used to label the concept. Regression analyses revealed that academic English proficiency and English reading comprehension were not predicted by the conceptually scored measure of receptive vocabulary. However, both academic English proficiency and English reading comprehension were predicted by the conceptually scored measure of expressive vocabulary. In addition, the relationship between conceptually scored expressive vocabulary and English reading comprehension remained after controlling for academic English proficiency. Results underscore the utility of measures that incorporate English learners’ first and second language skills in understanding the vocabulary knowledge English learners bring to English language and literacy learning tasks.
The present study examines the perceptual, linguistic, and social cues that were associated with preschoolers’ (4;11) growth in word-learning during shared book-reading and guided play activities. Small groups of three preschoolers (n = 30) and one adult were video-recorded during an intervention study in which new vocabulary words were explicitly taught. Adult use of taught words was coded for perceptual and linguistic cues and type of social interaction. Hearing taught words used in the book text and learning information about words’ meanings during play was positively associated with growth in word-learning. Adult use of words in responsive, or child-initiated, interactions was positively associated with word-learning growth in both book-reading and play, while adult-initiated use of words was negatively associated with word-learning growth in both settings.
This study investigates the effect of an abstract word training paradigm initially developed to treat lexical retrieval deficits in patients with aphasia on second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition. Three English–Spanish L2 learners (Experiment 1) and 10 Spanish–English L2 learners (Experiment 3) were trained on 15 abstract words within a context-category (e.g., restaurant) using a five-step training paradigm based on semantic feature analysis. In addition, 7 English–Spanish L2 learners were trained on either abstract or concrete words within a context-category (Experiment 2). Across all experiments, the majority of participants trained on abstract words showed improved production of the trained abstract words, as measured by a word generation task, as well as improvement on untrained concrete words within the same context-category (i.e., generalization). Participants trained on concrete words (Experiment 2) exhibited much smaller word production gains and no generalization to abstract words. These results parallel previous findings from aphasia research and suggest that this training paradigm can successfully be extended to L2 learning contexts, where it has the potential to be a useful tool in vocabulary instruction. We discuss the findings in terms of models of spreading activation and the underlying conceptual representations of abstract and concrete words in the L2 lexicon.