Margarita Kaushanskaya, PhD – Slide of the Week

Margarita Kaushanskaya, PhD - Slide of the Week

Title: The Roles of Language Ability and Language Dominance in Bilingual Parent-Child Language Alignment

Legend: Predicted probability of child language alignment as a function of the interaction between language of the prior turn (English or Spanish) and omnibus language ability (measured via Bilingual English Spanish Assessment, BESA). Findings indicate that bilingual children across levels of language abilities (from clinically-low to high) align their language choice to that of their parents.

Citation: Slawny, C., Libersky, E., & Kaushanskaya, M. (in revision). The roles of language ability and language dominance in bilingual parent-child language alignment. Journal of Child Language.

Abstract: Limited prior work has taken a group-based approach to examining bilingual children’s and parents’ alignment of language use in spontaneous conversations. This study examined alignment of language choice of 44 Spanish-English bilingual child-parent dyads in a naturalistic context to determine whether bilingual children and their parents respond to each other in the same language(s) across conversational turns, and whether children’s language ability and children’s and parents’ language dominance affect language alignment. Results revealed that children and parents largely aligned their language choice and that children’s and parents’ language dominance, but not children’s language ability, influenced alignment. Patterns of alignment differed between children and parents, with parents encouraging children’s use of Spanish. Together, these findings suggest that bilinguals’ alignment of language choice is deeply sensitive to language dominance effects in both children and adults, but that parents also choose their language strategically in conversations with their children.

About the Lab: Margarita Kaushanskaya is a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Research in her Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab (LAB) examines language and cognitive development in bilingual children with and without developmental disabilities.

Investigator: Margarita Kaushanskaya, PhD

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