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Title:Effects of Bilingualism on Development of Facets of Phonological Competence
Author(s):Kuo, Li-Jen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Anderson, Richard C.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Abstract:In three empirical studies, the participants were Mandarin-speaking kindergarteners, first-graders and second-graders with different degrees of exposure to Southern-Min, a heritage language spoken in Taiwan. Southern-Min and Mandarin are typologically related, but are mutually unintelligible. Results from the three studies that examined different facets of phonological competence show that the bilingual children outperformed their monolingual peers in segmental sensitivity, but this advantage was transient and had largely disappeared by the second grade. No bilingual effect was observed in the development of suprasegmental sensitivity. Bilingual children showed a disadvantage in the development of language-dependent distributional sensitivity at the kindergarten level, which may be attributed to the overlap of their two developing phonotactic schemata. However, by the first grade, bilingual children caught up to their monolingual peers and even demonstrated an advantage in language-independent distributional sensitivity. The bilingual advantages observed in these three studies can be best explained by the cognitive flexibility theory. The theory argues that bilinguals show a greater readiness to reorganize linguistic input and (implicitly) recognize linguistic structure, because the need to constantly overcome interlingual interference directs children's attention to the structural features of language. Furthermore, having access to two languages may render structural similarities and differences between languages more salient, thus allowing bilingual speakers to form representations of language structure at a more abstract level.
Issue Date:2006
Description:127 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3242904
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2006

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