Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Abstract

This study explores how sequential bilingual children, who first learn Cantonese (L1) and then English (L2), process sentences in each language. Previous studies have examined the processing abilities in monolingual children and bilingual school-aged children using sentence repetition tasks. However, little is known about how younger bilingual children process sentences in L1 and L2. Specific research questions were: (1) How do sequential bilingual children process sentences in L1 and in L2? (2) Are there any relationships between children’s the sentence processing skills and their vocabulary skills within and across two languages? Participants were 50 preschool aged children, who were exposed to Cantonese from birth and had about one year of English experience in preschool settings. Participants’ vocabulary skills were evaluated using Cantonese-English bilingual vocabulary measures developed by Koenig and Kan (2011); and their sentence processing skills were measured using a sentence repetition (SR) task in Cantonese and in English. Results indicated that: (1) children’s SR performance in L1 was higher than that in L2; (2) their overall vocabulary appears to be related to sentence processing in both languages.

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