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Title: The development of the two languages in bilingual children: Spanish-English

  1. Major Contributors: Jennifer Austin, María Blume, Liliana Sánchez
  2. Lab (s) Name (s): Jennifer Austin: Infant Cognition Center, Rutgers University-Newark; María Blume: Language Acquisition Research Lab, University of Texas at El Paso; Liliana Sánchez: Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition Lab, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  3. URL: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jbaustin/
  4. Coverage (countries): United States
  5. Languages: Spanish, English
  6. Date: 10/2003-6/2006
  1. GENERAL PROJECT DESCRIPTION
    This project is a study of morphosyntactic development in bilingual children who speak Spanish as a first language and who are acquiring English as a second language in school.
  2. PURPOSES OF THE PROJECT
    This longitudinal study was designed to investigate the development of negative sentences, negative polarity items (NPI) and interrogatives in the L1 and the L2 of 10 Spanish-English bilingual children learning English as a second language (ages 5;09 to 9;00 at the time of the first recording). The results indicate that cross-linguistic influence has a selective effect on the loss of Spanish in bilingual children. Contact with English impeded the children's ability to produce correct Spanish interrogative and negative polarity item (NPI) sentences, whereas the development of negative sentences was far less affected. In addition, there was no evidence of convergence towards English, the socially dominant L2. These findings suggest that the Spanish of this group of bilingual children is undergoing attrition, rather than convergence or incomplete acquisition, while their second language shows strong developmental progress.
  3. LEADING QUESTIONS
    Do Spanish/ English bilingual children undergo attrition in their first language when they learn English as a second language in school? How does their syntactic development in Spanish compare with their acquisition of English?
  4. RATIONALE AND AGENDA
    Research on the syntax of adult heritage learners of Spanish indicates that their grammars differ from those of native speakers (Montrul 2006,Silva-Corvalán 1994). However, it is unclear whether these differences stem from the incomplete acquisition of Spanish, first language attrition (loss), or syntactic convergence between their languages. In addition, there is little information regarding how these processes interact with normal grammatical development in bilingual children.
  5. PARTICULAR STUDIES
  6. CURRENT STATUS OF PROJECT
    Data collected, analyzed; article currently under review.
  7. PEOPLE
    Ryan Pomerantz, Jessica Blakeslee and Marina Yalon (research assistants).
  8. CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS
    2008:"Morphosyntactic attrition in the L1 of Spanish-English bilingual children". Jennifer Austin, María Blume and Liliana Sánchez. Invited panel presentation, International Association for the Study of Child Language, Edinburgh, Scotland. 2005 “Negation and interrogation in Spanish-English bilingual children”. Jennifer Austin, María Blume and Liliana Sánchez. Paper presented at the Workshop on Bilingual Convergence held at the Pennsylvania State University.
  9. PAPERS/BOOKS PUBLISHED
  10. PAPERS IN PREP
    Syntactic Development in the L1 of Spanish-English Bilingual Children (under review)