Lexical-Semantic Knowledge in Mandarin-English and Spanish-English Bilingual Children: A Comparative Study
Li Sheng

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Texas

Primary Discipline

Using the theoretical framework of the Competition Model (Hernandez, Li, & MacWhinney, 2005), the current project aims to compare patterns of language development in bilinguals who are learning typologically different languages, namely, Mandarin-English (ME) and Spanish-English (SE). We focus on structures of differential cue validity/strength in the children’s native languages, such as cognates, compound/derivational morphology, and salience of the noun hierarchy. We hypothesize that frequency of occurrence and productivity of these structures in the input language will determine the rate of learning. Therefore, the ME group will outperform the SE group on tasks tapping compound morphology and knowledge of the noun hierarchy; the SE group will outperform the ME group on tasks assessing derivational morphology and cognate vocabulary. Results will enrich our understanding of bilingualism theories and contribute novel and practical knowledge to practitioners in educational settings.
About Li Sheng

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