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Minimal second language exposure, SES, and early word comprehension: New evidence from a direct assessment*


Although the extant literature provides robust evidence of the influence of language exposure and socioeconomic status (SES) on language acquisition, it is unknown how sensitive the early receptive vocabulary system is to these factors. The current study investigates effects of minimal second language exposure and SES on the comprehension vocabulary of 16-month-old children in the language in which they receive the greatest exposure. Study 1 revealed minimal second language exposure and SES exert significant and independent effects on a direct measure of vocabulary comprehension in English-dominant and English monolingual children (N = 72). In Study 2, we replicated the effect of minimal second language exposure in Spanish-dominant and Spanish monolingual children (N = 86), however no effect of SES on vocabulary was obtained. Our results emphasize the sensitivity of the language system to minimal changes in the environment in early development.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Stephanie DeAnda, 6505 Alvarado Road, Suite 101, San Diego, CA 92120,
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This research was supported by NIH awards 5R01HD068458 and HD068458–02S1 to the senior author, and does not necessarily represent the views of the National Institutes of Health. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Kristi Hendrickson, Anya Mancillas, and Roberto Abreu-Mendoza to recruitment and data collection, and all of the parents and infants who have devoted their time to participate in this research.

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