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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

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Academic Paper


Title: “Corplum is a Core from a Plum”: The Advantage of Bilingual Children in the Analysis of Word Meaning from Verbal Context
Author: Stefka H. Marinova-Todd
Institution: Harvard Graduate School of Education
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: The possible advantage of bilingual children over monolinguals in analyzing word meanings from verbal context was examined. The subjects were 40 third-grade children (20 bilingual and 20 monolingual) recruited from independent schools in the USA. The two groups of participants were compared on their performance on a standardized test of receptive vocabulary and an experimental measure of word meanings, the Word–Context Test. Results revealed that on average, the bilingual children had smaller vocabularies in English. The bilinguals deduced the meaning from context of more words than the monolingual children, although there were no differences between groups on the rate of reaching the target meanings for words on which they were successful, and on the quality of their definitions. Moreover, bilingual children approached the task differently and they showed greater flexibility when analyzing word meanings from verbal context, thus indicating that bilinguals may be more efficient vocabulary learners than monolinguals.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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