Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Pui Fong Kan

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Arehart

Third Advisor

Nina Molinaro


This study analyzes the effects of language input from older siblings on language skills in preschool-age Cantonese-English bilingual children. Twenty-seven bilingual preschool-age children learning Cantonese as their first language (L1) and English as a second language (L2) were tested on their vocabulary receptive and expressive skills as well as fast mapping comprehension and production skills. Participants were broken into two groups based on the language use of their older siblings: the ‘Mostly Cantonese’ group contains those participants with older siblings who use mostly Cantonese (L1) at home, while the ‘50/50’ group contains those participants with older siblings using an equal amount of Cantonese (L1) and English (L2) at home. Hypotheses that children in the ‘50/50’ group would outperform children in the ‘Mostly Cantonese’ group in vocabulary and fast mapping tests given in English (L2) were unsupported by the results of this study. Results of the vocabulary task saw no significant differences between groups. Results of the fast mapping task did, however, suggest the possibility that older siblings who speak mostly L1 are more beneficial to their younger siblings’ L1 fast mapping skills, whereas older siblings who speak both languages equally are not beneficial to their younger siblings’ L1 or L2 skills.