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Pathways for learning two languages: lexical and grammatical associations within and across languages in sequential bilingual children*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2016

San Diego State University
Address for correspondence: Giang Pham, 5500 Campanile Drive, SLHS 238, San Diego, CA


This study examines the strength and direction of lexical-grammatical associations within and between first and second languages (L1 and L2) in a longitudinal sample of sequential bilinguals. Thirty-three children who spoke Vietnamese (L1) and English (L2) completed picture-naming and story-telling tasks in each language at four yearly intervals. Hierarchical linear modeling across Years 1–4 revealed bidirectional within-language associations and a unidirectional cross-language association from the L1 to L2. Results suggest a conditional relationship between languages in which the L1 supports L2 growth, but not vice versa. Findings contribute to defining pathways for L1 and L2 learning across domains and languages.

Research Notes
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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Funding for data collection provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (F31HD055113). I thank Hai Anh Nguyen for her role as school liaison, participating children and their families, and the many research assistants involved in data collection, data entry, and language transcription. I thank Kerry Ebert for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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