Publication

Individual differences in very young Chinese children’s English vocabulary breadth and semantic depth: Internal and external factors

Sun, H., Steinkrauss, R., Wieling, M. & de Bot, C., 2018, In : International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 21, 4, p. 405-425 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

This study examines the English vocabulary development of 43 very young child EFL learners (age 3;2-6;2) in China. They were tested twice for vocabulary breadth (reception and production) and semantic depth (paradigmatic and syntagmatic vocabulary knowledge). The development of the English vocabulary knowledge was predicted using a series of internal factors (e.g., phonological short-term memory) and external factors (e.g., English input quantity).
An exploratory mixed-effects regression analysis revealed that English use, interacting with age of English onset, significantly predicted such growth. Older children benefitted more from practicing English to enhance their English vocabulary. The amount of English input at school was found to positively impact the development of English syntagmatic knowledge. Chinese paradigmatic knowledge significantly influenced the growth of English paradigmatic and syntagmatic knowledge. These findings indicate that at least at an early stage, external factors play an important role in child FL vocabulary development, particularly in children with a later age of English onset. Furthermore, the transfer of concepts from the L1 to the L2 might be more pronounced with respect to L2 semantic depth than L2 vocabulary breadth. This conceptual transfer is relevant to FL learners as young as three years of age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-425
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Volume21
Issue number4
Early online date30-Apr-2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Keywords

  • BILINGUAL-CHILDREN, LANGUAGE LEARNERS, LINGUISTIC INTERDEPENDENCE, 2ND-LANGUAGE ACQUISITION, LEXICAL KNOWLEDGE, LEARNING ENGLISH, EXPOSURE, INPUT, MODEL, SIZE

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