Phonological and lexical acquisition in mono- and bilingual children in the Nordic and Baltic states

Previous research has found that children with good early phonological skills tend to have a larger vocabulary, and children with larger vocabulary at an early age tend to become good readers. This researcher network is interested to see whether this is true also for the Scandinavian languages, North Sami and Estonian.

Danish children seem to acquire their mother tongue later than Swedish and Norwegian children. These differences may be due to differences in the phonological systems of these languages. The researchers in this network want to continue exploring these differences among Scandinavian children in general, as well as to see whether bilingual children who learn Danish are later than bilingual children learning other languages in Scandinavia or Estonia.

The so-called MacArthur-Bates Communicative Inventories which are parental reports measuring gestures, vocabulary and grammar will be used. Studies using MCDIs can tell us what the normal lexical development of children learning a language is. The MCDIs can also be used to measure the lexical vocabularies of bilingual children.

Today, we do not have adequate assessment tools to distinguish between monolingual children with language impairment, typically developing bilinguals and bilingual children with language impairment. By improving the MCDIs for the languages that are represented in the network (Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, North Sami and Estonian) more accurate studies of the typical development of mono- and bilingual children can be made, as well as assessment tools for bilingual children which can detect atypical development.

Children with atypical language development need extra language support, and screening tools can be the first step to providing health personnel with a diagnostic tool which can be the basis of an application for extra language training.

The acquisition of Scandinavian languages can also be compared by studying the phonological and lexical acquisition of non-Scandinavian immigrants.

Facts about the project
Project leader

Kristian Emil Kristoffersen, University of Oslo, Norway