Published: June 25, 2018

We are pleased to welcome Katherine Demuth (Macquarie University). Below are the details. 

Title: On becoming bilingual: L1 and L2 input effects on early sequential bilinguals' developing knowledge of grammar
Wednesday, June 27th
Fleming 279

Abstract: Many studies have reported on the language and cognitive abilities of balanced bilinguals, as well as children learning an L2 at school.  In contrast, there has been relatively little investigation of the language abilities of early sequential bilinguals, exposed to the larger community language at 3-4 years of age, when they go to preschool. Knowing more about these children’s language development is critical not only for assessing ‘school readiness’, but also for identifying those at risk for language delay/SLI. This is all the more pressing in countries with large immigrant populations from a wide range of language backgrounds. This talk presents recent results regarding the grammatical development of such children in Sydney, Australia, exploring what they know about English inflectional morphology (plurals, tense/agreement), and how this develops during the preschool years. Using converging evidence from different methods, the findings suggest that the typological structure of the L1/home language (morphologically isolating or not) may play an important role in determining a child’s level of grammatical knowledge as they approach 5 years. This raises many questions about the potential mediating effect of the L1 and L2 input different children receive at home in determining if/when they catch up to their monolingual peers.