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Linguistic interdependence of receptive vocabulary skills in emergent bilingual preschool children: Exploring a factor-dependent approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2019

Sven Sierens*
Affiliation:
Ghent University
Stef Slembrouck
Affiliation:
Ghent University
Koen Van Gorp
Affiliation:
Michigan State University
Orhan Agirdag
Affiliation:
KU Leuven and University of Amsterdam
Piet Van Avermaet
Affiliation:
Ghent University
*
*Corresponding author. Email: sven.sierens@ugent.be

Abstract

This study investigates the extent to which internal and contextual factors moderate the linguistic interdependence between receptive vocabulary skills in emergent bilingual children. Such factors are frequently related to first (L1) and second language (L2) skills, but few studies have examined their concurrent influence on the cross-language relationship, or have linked the results to the two main explanatory models for interdependence: common underlying proficiency or individual differences. Using a cross-sectional correlational design, concept comprehension was bilingually assessed in 154 children of Turkish background (aged 4 to 6), attending Flemish preschool. Regression analyses revealed that Turkish L1 vocabulary size significantly predicted Dutch L2 vocabulary size, which is in line with interdependence theories. Age, preschool grade, and L2 use at home positively predicted L2 vocabulary. Newly arrived immigrant status and maternal education (partly) predicted L2 vocabulary negatively, the latter especially in 3rd preschool grade. Concerning moderation, indications were found for weakening interdependence for high L2 use at home (3rd preschool grade) and newly arrived immigrant status. Overall, our findings implicate that interdependence in emergent bilinguals’ vocabulary depends on the examined factors to a limited degree only. Finally, our data point to the individual differences model, rather than the common underlying proficiency model of linguistic interdependence.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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Linguistic interdependence of receptive vocabulary skills in emergent bilingual preschool children: Exploring a factor-dependent approach
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