Spanish-English Bilingual Children’s Relative Use of English Tense and Agreement Morphemes
Keywords:bilingualism, tense and agreement morphology, morphological development, precocious BE, typical bilingual language development, low language skills
Best practice for bilingual speakers involves considering performance in each language the client uses. To support this practice for young clients, a comprehensive understanding of how bilingual children develop skills in each language is needed. To that end, the present work investigates relative use of English tense and agreement (T/A) morphemes—a skill frequently considered as part of a complete language assessment—in Spanish-English developing bilingual preschoolers with varying levels of language ability. Results indicate that developing bilingual children with both typical and weak language skills demonstrate greater use of copula and auxiliary BE relative to third person singular, past tense and auxiliary DO. Findings thus reveal a relative ranking of T/A morphemes in developing bilingual children that differs from that of English monolingual children, who demonstrate relatively later emergence and productivity of auxiliary BE. In turn, findings demonstrate the importance of utilizing appropriate comparisons in clinical practice.
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