Bilingual Language Learners

Current Projects

Early Sequential Bilingual Language Learners’ Adherence to the Mutual Exclusivity Constraint

Emily Lund and C. Melanie Schuele

Investigations of the relationship between bilingual language experience and fundamental word learning constraints have been limited to simultaneously bilingual children.  Children are generally considered simultaneous bilingual language learners when they learn a first and second language at the same time, which is frequently the case when bilingual parents provide significant exposure to both languages.  In contrast, early sequential bilingual language learners are raised in a monolingual environment from birth and exposed to a second language generally between the ages of 3-5 years (as when they enter preschool).  Late sequential bilingual language learners begin acquiring a second language after establishing a fully developed language system (generally after they are 5 years old.) The varying circumstances of language learning between these groups may precipitate use of different word-learning strategies.  Word learning constraints as they apply to this subset of the bilingual population are as of yet unexplored.  The purpose of this study is to answer the following questions: Are bilingual language learners as proficient as monolingual language learners at applying new labels to unfamiliar objects? and  Are bilingual children more likely to apply a novel label to a familiar object if the novel word appears to come from their second language (English)? Children will participate in vocabulary measure and a picture identification task. Performance of bilingual language learners and monolingual language learners will be compared.
Emergent Literacy Skills of Bilingual Language Learners with Hearing Loss

Emily Lund, Krystal L. Werfel, and C. Melanie Schuele

Many children with hearing loss show delays in acquiring emergent literacy skills such as phonological and print awareness. These delays can profoundly impede conventional literacy development (word decoding, reading comprehension, written expression, spelling). In addition, the number of bilingual language learners with hearing loss has been steadily increasing. Current research does not define the impact of bilingualism on the emergent literacy skills of children with or without hearing loss. Limitations in the literature concerning the emergent reading skills of bilingual children do not allow investigators to predict whether bilingual language learning provides an advantage or disadvantage to bilingual children with hearing loss.