THE ACQUISITION OF SYNTAX IN SPANISH AND ENGLISH MONOLINGUAL AND BILINGUAL CHILDREN, AGES 5 TO 10 YEARS

GLADYS CARRO-KOWALCYK, Fordham University

Abstract

This cross-sectional investigation was undertaken for the purpose of describing the comprehension sequence of 12 selected sentence structures in English and Spanish among 90 children of three distinct language backgrounds of ages 5.6 to 10.9 years. Specifically, the study: (a) determined the order of comprehension of 12 English and Spanish sentence structures among the three language groups, (b) compared the achieved comprehension ranking to the hypothesized order, and (c) compared the achieved ranking obtained from the English and Spanish monolingual children with the achieved ordering obtained from the Spanish-dominant children in Spanish (L1) and English (L2).^ An analysis of the statistical results revealed that there was a significant similarity among the achieved sentence structure scalograms of all language populations. A predictable order of sentence structure acquisition was revealed for each language population. These patterns of acquisition were statistically similar but not identical. Slight variations in the sequences were found in terms of age and rate of acquisition in each language population. Slight variations in the scalograms were also found among each language population. These variations however, were not statistically significant. Another noteworthy finding revealed that second language learners with 2 to 12 months of English instruction and exposure may be employing additional second language acquisition strategies other than overgeneralizations and hypothesis testing.^ The results also show that the rate of sentence structure comprehension in the child's second language increased with age. That is, an older child with the same amount of English (L2) instruction/exposure understood more structures than the younger child.^ This investigation provided considerable insights into the general nature of the language comprehension process in monolingual and second language learners. The conclusions provide valuable information for elementary school teachers and foreign language teachers in terms of the age in which selected sentence structures are understood by both monolingual Spanish and English speakers and second language learners with 2 to 12 months of English exposure/instruction. Knowledge of the findings may also assist language teachers in planning their language arts curriculum. It can also assist teachers of children whose first language is not English in developing language learning activities other than pattern drills (which may be a futile effort with young children) since the child may not be capable of understanding these selected structures until he/she is older.^

Subject Area

Language arts

Recommended Citation

CARRO-KOWALCYK, GLADYS, "THE ACQUISITION OF SYNTAX IN SPANISH AND ENGLISH MONOLINGUAL AND BILINGUAL CHILDREN, AGES 5 TO 10 YEARS" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8223591.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8223591

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