Is the linguistic competence of multilingual children’s dominant language influenced by knowledge of an additional language(s) that they speak? A comparative case study of the dominant language of two multilingual and two monolingual 8 year old children

Berg, Ester (2011) Is the linguistic competence of multilingual children’s dominant language influenced by knowledge of an additional language(s) that they speak? A comparative case study of the dominant language of two multilingual and two monolingual 8 year old children. MA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    This dissertation investigates whether the linguistic competence of multilingual children’s dominant language could in any way be influenced by knowledge or usage of any additional language(s) that the children speak. This hypothesis stems from several theories from the field of second language acquisition supporting mutual interaction of bilinguals’ knowledge of their two languages and research results showing that a second (less dominant) language can in fact influence the speaker’s first (dominant) language. This dissertation will try to establish whether the same can happen in the field of early simultaneous multilingualism.

    This dissertation compares the dominant language of two multilingual children with the same language of two monolingual children in order to find out if there are any major differences in linguistic competence between multilingual and monolingual children and then examines the test results in more detail to find out if the less dominant language of the multilingual children could be in any way responsible for the possible errors in their dominant language (written and oral language tests and the information used were all in agreement with ethics regulations).

    The detailed error examination showed that many of the errors in the children’s dominant language were in fact related to some of the features of the less dominant language(s), which corroborates the hypothesis that the linguistic competence of multilingual children’s dominant language could in fact be influenced by knowledge or extensive usage of other language(s) (children’s parents provided the necessary insight into the native languages).

    The limitation of this study lies in its small sample. Only four case studies were qualitatively compared due to difficulties finding multilingual children from the same linguistic background as the monolingual group of children (from the same year of the same junior school, having attended the same infant school). However, even sample this small showed various examples of possible influence of the less dominant language on the dominant language and therefore can provide a starting point for any further research in this subject area.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Languages and Area Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2011 11:03
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:35
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/3552

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