Research question: This paper will describe the development of the Crosslinguistic Lexical Tasks (CLTs) for Irish.
Methods: We first completed a naming, Age of Acquisition (AOA) and complexity index study of the CLT items. We then designed a pilot version of the Irish CLT, ensuring that no cognates or loanwords from English were included. We developed an electronic version of the Irish and British-English CLTs recorded with native-speaker accents. The Irish and English vocabulary knowledge of 30 typically developing 5-year-olds living in a Gaeltacht region and attending Irish-immersion schooling was tested. The children were divided equally into three groups consisting of those from Irish dominant, bilingual and English dominant homes. The first language of testing was counterbalanced across children, and the subtests within each language were also counterbalanced across comprehension and expression tasks.
Results: Children from the Irish dominant homes had significantly higher vocabulary scores than those from bilingual and English dominant homes on all Irish language subtests. Children from bilingual homes had significantly higher Irish vocabulary scores than those from English dominant homes on noun and verb production tasks, but not on comprehension tasks. There was no significant difference between the groups on any of the English vocabulary measures. As a group, the children had significantly higher scores on all of the English vocabulary items compared to the Irish items.
Conclusion: The findings highlight the advantage of home language support for the Irish language, yet also highlight the dominance of English vocabulary knowledge in this population