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Purpose:This study examined young English language learners' (ELLs) sensitivity to cognate words (i.e., phonologically-similar translation equivalents, such as baby-bebéand telephone-teléfono) during timed comprehension and production tasks.Method:In this descriptive study, thirty-one young ELL children and a control group of thirty-one English monolingual children participated in two researcher-developed tasks. During a comprehension task, children completed a picture-word verification task which required a rapid forced choice to identify whether a picture matched an auditory stimulus (i.e., match: green "smiley face" button, not-match: red "sad face" button). During an expressive task, ELL children completed picture naming in three blocks (i.e., English, Spanish, free-choice). English monolingual children completed two blocks of English picture naming. The order of receptive and expressive task administration was counterbalanced, and word order was randomized within each block. Speed and accuracy were the dependent variables for the picture word verification task, and accuracy was the dependent variable for picture naming tasks.Results:On the picture word verification task, ELLs showed no significant differences between cognates and noncognates on the comprehension task. Possible explanations for this non-significant finding are discussed. On the picture naming task, young ELL children demonstrated higher accuracy on phonologically-similar cognates than noncognates, similar to the cognate effect found with bilingual adults. In contrast, English monolingual children did not perform differently on cognates versus noncognates, confirming that ELL children demonstrate a cognate effect unique to dual language learners.
cognate, English language learners, phonological similarity, picture naming, vocabulary
Date of Defense
November 7, 2011.
A Dissertation submitted to the School of Communicative Science and Disorders in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Carla Jackson, Professor Directing Dissertation; Gretchen Sunderman, University Representative; Kenn Apel, Committee Member; Christopher Schatschneider, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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