Phonological vulnerability for school-aged Spanish-English-speaking bilingual children

Jessie A. Erikson, Mary Alt, Shelley Gray, Samuel Green, Tiffany P. Hogan, Nelson Cowan

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    This study examined accuracy on syllable-final (coda) consonants in newly-learned English-like nonwords to determine whether school-aged bilingual children may be more vulnerable to making errors on English-only codas than their monolingual, English-speaking peers, even at a stage in development when phonological accuracy in productions of familiar words is high. Bilingual Spanish-English-speaking second-graders (age 7–9) with typical development (n = 40) were matched individually with monolingual peers on age, sex, and speech skills. Participants learned to name sea monsters as part of five computerized word learning tasks. Dependent t-tests revealed bilingual children were less accurate than monolingual children in producing codas unique to English; however, the groups demonstrated equivalent levels of accuracy on codas that occur in both Spanish and English. Results suggest that, even at high levels of English proficiency, bilingual Spanish-English-speaking children may demonstrate lower accuracy than their monolingual English-speaking peers on targets that pattern differently in their two languages. Differences between a bilingual’s two languages can be used to reveal targets that may be more vulnerable to error, which could be a result of cross-linguistic effects or more limited practice with English phonology.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)736-756
    Number of pages21
    JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - 2021


    • Bilingualism
    • childhood bilingualism
    • language skills
    • language transfer

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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