ERIC Number: EJ1074168
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Flexibility in Bilingual Infants' Word Learning
Graf Estes, Katharine; Hay, Jessica F.
Child Development, v86 n5 p1371-1385 Sep-Oct 2015
The present experiments tested bilingual infants' developmental narrowing for the interpretation of sounds that form words. These studies addressed how language specialization proceeds when the environment provides varied and divergent input. Experiment 1 (N = 32) demonstrated that bilingual 14- and 19-month-olds learned a pair of object labels consisting of the same syllable produced with distinct pitch contours (rising and falling). Infants' native languages did not use pitch contour to differentiate words. In Experiment 2 (N = 16), 22-month-old bilinguals failed to learn the labels. These results conflict with the developmental trajectory of monolinguals, who fail to learn pitch contour contrasts as labels at 17-19 months (Hay, Graf Estes, Wang, & Saffran, 2015). Bilingual infants exhibited a prolonged period of flexibility in their interpretation of potential word forms.
Descriptors: Bilingualism, Infants, Language Usage, Environmental Influences, Toddlers, Native Language, Language Acquisition, Monolingualism, Intonation, Suprasegmentals
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: BCS0847379