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Narrative competence of Italian–English bilingual children between 5 and 7 years

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 December 2015

University of Padova
University of Padova
University of Padova
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Maja Roch, Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialization, University of Padova, Via Venezia 8, Padova 35131, Italy. E-mail:


The study explored narrative production and comprehension in typically developing Italian–English sequential bilinguals. Thirty 5- to 6-year-olds and 32 6- to 7-year-olds were presented with story telling and retelling tasks, each followed by comprehension questions in Italian (their first language) and English (their second language). The macrostructure of narratives produced was analyzed, considering total amount of relevant information, story complexity, and mental state terms. Comprehension questions focused on implicit story information (i.e., characters’ mental states and goals). The results indicated that (a) older children outperformed younger ones on all measures; (b) an advantage of first language (Italian) over second language (English) emerged for younger children; and (c) comprehension and production were both more accurate in story retelling than in telling. Theoretical and methodological implications of these results are discussed.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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