Bilingual Language Acquisition

Bilingual Language Acquisition : Spanish and English in the First Six Years

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How do children develop bilingual competence? Do bilingual children develop language in the same way as monolinguals? Set in the context of findings on language development, this book examines the acquisition of English and Spanish by two brothers in the first six years of their lives. Based on in-depth and meticulous analyses of naturalistic data, it explores how the systems of both languages affect each other as the children develop, and how different levels of exposure to each language influence the nature of acquisition. The author demonstrates that the children's grammars and lexicons follow a developmental path similar to that of monolinguals, but that cross-linguistic interactions affecting lexical, semantic and discourse-pragmatic aspects arise in Spanish when exposure to it diminishes around the age of four. The first of its kind, this original study is a must-read for students and researchers in bilingualism, child development, language acquisition and language more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 6 b/w illus. 69 tables
  • 1139162535
  • 9781139162531

Review quote

'Written with love, sophistication and erudition, this impressively informative longitudinal study of Silva-Corvalan's two grandchildren will become a crucial link in our current understanding of early bilingual acquisition, of key features of Spanish and of the acquisition of Spanish as a heritage language in the United States.' Silvina Montrul, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 'The case study approach is a real success in bringing together theory and empirical data. The richness of the findings comes alive in Silva-Corvalan's painstakingly detailed analysis.' Ludovica Serratrice, University of Manchester 'The author provides a truly comprehensive description of how the two youngsters fair in their bilingual language development ... this description should prove extremely valuable to researchers in the field.' Studies in Second Language Acquisition 'Silva-Corvalan has produced a labor of love that is chock-full of precious data, analyses, and clearly articulated hypotheses to be tested in future research. Those of us who investigate child language, bilingualism, language contact, and linguistic complexity will read this volume many times over, and will use it as a starting point for our own projects. The book is also useful for graduate seminars on bilingualism, bilingual language acquisition, Spanish in the US, and numerous other topics. Silva-Corvalan has yet again produced seminal work that will serve as a benchmark for future research for many years to come.' Naomi L. Shin, Heritage Language Journalshow more

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Methodology; 3. Bilingual development: a linguistic profile of the first six years; 4. Subjects in English and Spanish; 5. The order of constituents: subject position in Spanish and English; 6. The acquisition of ser, estar, and be; 7. The development of verb morphology: learning how to mark tense, aspect and mood; 8. Discussion and conclusions; Appendices: 1. Transcription instructions; 2. Calculation of MLUw; 3. Spanish adjectives used with copulas up to age 6; 4. The siblings' early verb lexicon in English and Spanish; 5. Excerpt of adapted Goldilocks more