Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Eliana Colunga

Abstract

Monolingual and bilingual children learn words differently due to the different environments they are raised in. This study used 16 monolingual and 16 bilingual children approximately 30-months old. Because of a different linguistic environment, the cues children attend to in the process of language acquisition may differ. Particularly, this study looked at the relative differences between bilingual and monolingual children’s tendency to attend to pragmatic, i.e. social-linguistic cues and object property cues, such as shape, when learning words. Overall, results conclude that monolingual children pay more attention to object property cues compared to bilingual children and suggest that bilingual children relatively pay more attention to pragmatic cues when they are available. Bilingual children are suggested to attend to pragmatic cues to a greater extent relative to monolinguals because of their attention to social context from hearing multiple labels in two languages and because of their flexibility in attending to linguistic cues in general.

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