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Academic Paper


Title: Finding le mot juste: Differences between bilingual and monolingual children's lexical access in comprehension and production
Author: Stephanie Yan
Institution: University of Alberta
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics
Abstract: By school age, some bilingual children can score equivalently to monolinguals in receptive vocabulary but still lag in expressive vocabulary. In this study, we test whether bilingual children have greater difficulty with lexical access, as has been reported for adult bilinguals. School-aged French–English bilingual children were given tests of receptive vocabulary and picture naming. The bilingual children's performance was compared to English monolinguals'. We found that bilingual children scored slightly lower on some measures of comprehension and lower on producing the target word. The bilinguals were more likely to correctly identify the target picture even if they had not produced the name. The differences in comprehension but not production could be statistically accounted for by the variation in receptive vocabulary. These results suggest that, school-aged bilinguals can be close to monolinguals in receptive vocabulary but have a harder time accessing the exact word for production. We discuss reasons for this difficulty with lexical access and strategies that children used when they did not produce the target word.

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This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 12, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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