Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Second Advisor

Brenda Schick

Third Advisor

Eliana Colunga

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore fast mapping skills in sequential bilingual children who speak Spanish (L1) as a home language from birth and started to learn English (L2) as a second language in a preschool setting. Eighteen typically-developing preschool sequential bilingual children completed a fast mapping task in a narrative context comparing their performance in L1 and L2 and in two presentation modalities (cartoon and storybook). Results indicated that the fast mapping task in a narrative context supports unfamiliar word learning. In addition, children are capable of learning unfamiliar words through a cartoon stimulus equally as well as storybook reading. The clearest learning trajectories are seen in L1. There is a clear cross-linguistic relationship in fast mapping performance in both the storybook and cartoon modality. This demonstrates support of the language specificity of word learning and that L1 support is critical during language development even during varied English acquisition stages. The cross-linguistic relationship also indicates the interaction of languages and the continuity of knowledge between L1 and L2 within a bilingual child. Cartoon media when enhanced with adult-child interaction can support word-learning and offers a promising medium to encourage adult-child interactions.

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