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ERIC Number: EJ913743
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 39
ISSN: ISSN-1524-8372
Young Bilingual Children's Heightened Sensitivity to Referential Cues
Yow, W. Quin; Markman, Ellen M.
Journal of Cognition and Development, v12 n1 p12-31 2011
Children growing up in a dual-language environment have to constantly monitor the dynamic communicative context to determine what the speaker is trying to say and how to respond appropriately. Such self-generated efforts to monitor speakers' communicative needs may heighten children's sensitivity to, and allow them to make better use of, referential gestures to figure out a speaker's referential intent. In a series of studies, we explored monolingual and bilingual preschoolers' use of nonverbal referential gestures such as pointing and gaze direction to figure out a speaker's intent to refer. In Study 1, we found that 3- and 4-year-old bilingual children were better able than monolingual children to use referential gestures (e.g., gaze direction) to locate a hidden toy in the face of conflicting body-distal information (the experimenter was seated behind an empty box while the cue was directed at the correct box). Study 2 found that by 5 years of age, monolingual children had mastered this task. Study 3 established that the bilingual advantage can be found in children as young as 2 years old. Thus, the experience of growing up in a bilingual environment fosters the development of the understanding of referential intent. (Contains 1 table and 2 figures.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A