Background: Despite the growing number of Persian-speaking people in the U.S., little is known regarding the language development of children learning Persian and English. Researchers studying Persian or Persian-English speakers typically only investigate one or two very specific areas of speech or language. However, there is no research examining how the amount of exposure to Persian and English and the amount of Persian and English spoken by children influences their language skills (e.g., vocabulary, morphosyntax). Method: Participants were two groups of preschool children, Persian-English bilingual (BI) children (n = 15) and English-only speaking (EO) children (n = 17); all children were 2 through 5 years of age. BI children attended a Persian immersion preschool in the San Francisco area and EO children attended English-only preschools in the Minneapolis area. BI participants completed a series of vocabulary and morphosyntax tasks in Persian and English; EO participants completed the same English series. Results: Results indicate a) no significant differences between the English scores of the BI and EO groups, b) significant differences in the BI group's English and Persian scores, c) significant cross-domain relationships within Persian and within English for the BI group, d) significant cross-linguistic relationships for Persian and English vocabulary and Persian and English morphosyntax, and e) notable trends that highlight the impact of the amount of parental language input and child language production on language skills. Conclusion: Across all the analyses, study results consistently suggest that greater heritage language support is beneficial for bilingual children and not detrimental to language development of the majority language, English.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. Advisors: Lizbeth Finestack, Kathryn Kohnert. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 96 pages.
Language Input and Outcomes in Bilingual Persian-English Children Attending an Immersion Preschool.
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