Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
O'Toole, C., Gatt, D
Child Language Impairment in Multilingual Contexts
Parent report of early lexical production in bilingual children across varied contexts
Krakow, Poland
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields

Limited word production in young children may be the first indicator of a language delay, which in turn signals risk for Specific Language Impairment (SLI). There is limited knowledge as to which level of bilingual vocabulary size should be considered as a risk marker of SLI. As a result, the effects of bilingualism and language-learning difficulties on early lexical production are often confounded. Establishing profiles for early vocabulary production in children exposed to more than one language across different contexts should enhance more accurate identification of vocabulary delays that signal a risk for SLI.

The present study employed a parental report method to measure lexical production in 224 typically-developing children aged 24 to 36 months who were exposed to various language pairs, namely Maltese and English, Irish and English, Polish and English, Turkish and German, Hebrew and English, as well as Cypriot Greek dialect and Standard Greek. Expressive vocabulary measures were obtained using adaptations of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories: Words and Sentences (CDI: WS) (Fenson et al., 1993, 2006) vocabulary checklist to the participants’ languages. Data gathered were analysed descriptively for Total Vocabulary, Total Conceptual Vocabulary and word class scores across all language pairs. Background information on the children’s language exposure and developmental history, including the presence of risk factors for language impairment, was gathered through questionnaires that the children’s parents also completed. Statistical effects of demographic, language exposure and risk variables on vocabulary measures were examined. Implications of reported findings will be discussed and their relevance to the early identification of language delay in children exposed to more than one language will be evaluated.   

COST Action IS0804