Novel word learning in children who are bilingual: Comparison to monolingual peers

Mary Alt, Genesis Dominique Arizmendi, Shelley Gray, Tiffany Patrice Hogan, Samuel Green, Nelson Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: We compared novel word learning in 2nd-grade children with typical development who were Spanish– English bilinguals to English monolinguals to understand word learning in bilingual children. Method: Children (monolinguals n = 167, bilinguals n = 76) engaged in 5 computer-based tasks that assessed word learning in 6 different contexts. The tasks measured children’s ability to link novel names with novel objects/actions, make decisions about the accuracy of those names and objects/ actions, recognize the semantic features of the objects/ actions, and produce the novel names. For analysis, we used Bayesian repeated-measures analyses of covariance with Bayesian independent-samples t tests to clarify interactions. Results: Monolingual and bilingual children differed in some, but not most, word learning situations. There was at least moderate evidence that bilingual children were less accurate at naming in 1 condition and at detecting mispronunciations in 3 of 6 contexts and were less accurate at judging semantic features of a referent when that referent was paired with orthographic information. Discussion: Among children with typical development, there were few differences in novel word learning between monolingual and bilingual participants. When differences did occur, they suggested that bilinguals were more accepting of phonological variations of word productions than their monolingual peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2332-2360
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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