Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Processing Speed in Typically-Developing Sequential Bilingual Children Public Deposited

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  • The purpose of this study was to investigate the response speed and speaking rate of Cantonese-English bilingual children during narrative contexts in both languages. Previous studies have primarily focused on monolingual school-age children, and there is a lack of research on younger bilingual preschool children’s response speed and speaking rate. Understanding how bilingual children process language and respond to language stimuli is crucial for accurately identifying potential language delays and disorders.  In this study, I analyzed the language samples of 36 typically-developing preschool children (3;1 to 5;3 M = 4;1; SD = 8.28) who learn Cantonese (L1) at home from birth and English (L2) in school. My focus was on whether age, existing language knowledge, and language (Cantonese vs. English) predicted children’s response speed and speaking rate. Results indicated that on average, children produced more words per minute in Cantonese than in English, but there were no differences in the average time intervals between the two languages. Regression analyses were conducted to determine the predictors of participants’ speaking rate and response speed. The results revealed that participants’ syntactic skills (mean length of utterance; MLU) and lexical diversity (number of different words; NDW) were significant predictors of children’s words per minute, but language was not significant. Moreover, older children responded faster to the examiner than younger children, but MLU and NDW failed to reach significance. In addition, there was no effect of language on speaking rates, suggesting that children’s speaking rates in Cantonese and English were the same when age, MLU, and NDW were taken into consideration in the model. The investigation contributes to the understanding of the “normal” range of response speed and rate in typically developing bilingual children through the process of story-retelling. This study provides a foundation for future research on the development of language processing and speech production in bilingual children, which may have implications for the assessment and intervention of language disorders.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-04-03
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Last Modified
  • 2023-04-13
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