No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article1 Feb 2003

French-English Bilingual Children With SLI

How Do They Compare With Their Monolingual Peers?

The goal of this study was to determine whether bilingual children with specific language impairment (SLI) are similar to monolingual age mates with SLI, in each language. Eight French-English bilingual children with SLI were compared to agematched monolingual children with SLI, both English and French speaking, with respect to their use of morphosyntax in language production. Specifically, using the extended optional infinitive (EOI) framework, the authors examined the children’s use of tense-bearing and non-tense-bearing morphemes in obligatory context in spontaneous speech. Analyses revealed that the patterns predicted by the EOI framework were borne out for both the monolingual and bilingual children with SLI: The bilingual and monolingual children with SLI showed greater accuracy with non-tense than with tense morphemes. Furthermore, the bilingual and monolingual children with SLI had similar mean accuracy scores for tense morphemes, indicating that the bilingual children did not exhibit more profound deficits in the use of these grammatical morphemes than their monolingual peers. In sum, the bilingual children with SLI in this study appeared similar to their monolingual peers for the aspects of grammatical morphology examined in each language. These bilingual-monolingual similarities point to the possibility that SLI may not be an impediment to learning two languages, at least in the domain of grammatical morphology.

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