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A longitudinal analysis of sentence interpretation in bilingual children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2015

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Rush University
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This longitudinal study used sentence interpretation tasks to consider growth in language processing among school-aged children learning Vietnamese and English. Thirty-two children participated yearly over three time points. Children were asked to identify the agent of sentences that manipulated linguistic cues relevant to Vietnamese (animacy) and English (word order). Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine change in cue use over time as well as the relation between cue use and proficiency in each language. Findings include exclusive reliance on word order by the end point, nearly identical group-level cue-use patterns across languages with individual variation, and positive relationships between language proficiency and cue use. Findings are discussed within the unified competition model (MacWhinney, 2004) and the literature on sequential bilingualism.

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