Effects of Second Language Acquisition on Narrative Structure and Linguistic Processes in Preschool and SchoolAged ChildrenAslı Aktan Erciyes
İkinci Dil Ediniminin Okul Öncesi ve Okul Çağı Çocuklarında Anlatı Becerilerinin Kurgusal ve Dilbilgisel Süreçlerine Olan EtkisiAslı Aktan Erciyes
Narrative competence plays a crucial role in the development of children’s linguistic and cognitive skills in many respects. Therefore, investigating children’s narrative skills provides enriched information in both domains. Narrative competence involves an integration of multiple systems of language as it requires the simultaneous planning of a meaningful content in terms of a coherent structure, a cohesive language use and a concern for the listeners’ informational needs (Johnston, 2008).
Producing narratives requires a coherent organization of the events making up the story around a goal in a way that renders them meaningful in terms of the intentional states of the characters and to express them by use of complex syntactic structures and appropriate lexical items. (Berman & Slobin, 1994; Johnston, 2008). Research on bilingual children’s narrative development is often limited to specific language-pairings (i.e. Spanish/English) and minority contexts where low-socioeconomic status (SES) is another variable playing a key role (Miller et al., 2006).
The present study aimed to investigate the effects of L2 (L2: Second language, English) on L1 (L1: Mother tongue, Turkish) and language competence reflected in narratives, both in structural and linguistic aspects. To investigate these questions, narrative skills task was performed with monolingual and bilingual children utilizing the wordless Frog, Where are you? (Mayer, 1969).
One hundred and twelve five- and seven-year-old monolingual (N = 61) and bilingual (N = 51) children participated in the study. Narrative skills were evaluated only for Turkish for monolingual children, whereas bilingual children were tested in English as well, the latter test taking place on a separate day. In order to assess vocabulary competence for L1 and L2 Türkçe İfade Edici ve Alıcı Dil Testi (TIFALDI, Kazak-Berument & Güven, 2013) and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4 (PPVT-4, Dunn & Dunn, 2012) were administered. In order to assess executive functioning – working memory, the backward digit span task of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- R (WISC-R, Wechsler, 1974) was used.
Narratives were transcribed and narrative quality was evaluated using Pearson (2002) coding scheme. Narratives were coded on four dimensions: Frog story elements, which refers to the episodic components of the story, sequence, which refers to overall plotline of the story, perspective-and-affect, which refers to referencing and internal states, and engagement, which corresponds to effort for listener engagement (Pearson, 2002). For each dimension 2 (Age: 5-and 7-year-olds) x 2 (Language group: monolingual and bilingual) factorial ANOVAs were conducted. For frog story elements, monolinguals (M = 6.13, SD = 2.81) performed better than bilinguals (M = 4.25, SD = 2.91) for both age groups, F(1, 107) = 12.18, p < .001, η p 2 = .10. For sequence, monolinguals (M = 7.73, SD = 2.59) again performed better than bilinguals (M = 5.35, SD = 2.36), F(1, 107) = 27.39, p < .001, η p 2 = .20. For perspective and affect, monolinguals was a main effect of language group (F(1, 107) = 23.87, p < .001, η p 2 = .18) as well as language and age interaction (F(1, 107) = 30.08, p < .001, η p 2 = .02). Post-hoc t-test showed that five-year-old monolinguals and bilinguals did not differ in their performance, (t(51) = 0.36, p = .72), whereas seven-year-old monolinguals (M = 7.36, SD = 1.45) were better than bilinguals (M = 2.60, SD = 2.63), t(56) = 8.79, p < .001. Finally, for engagement, monolinguals was a main effect of language group (F(1, 107) = 40.48, p < .001, η p 2 = .27) as well as language and age interaction (F(1, 107) = 15.04, p < .001, η p 2 = .12). Post-hoc t-tests indicate that there was no difference between five-year-old bilingals and monolinguals, t(51) = 1.78, p = .08. Seven-year-old monolinguals (M = 5.85, SD = 0.91) were better than bilinguals (M = 3.00, SD = 2.04), t(56) = 7.16, p < .001. Monolingual children (M = .50, SD = .15) were better at incorporating more complex linguistic structures into their narratives compared to bilinguals (M = .36, SD = .19), F(1, 107) = 16.99, p < .001 η p 2 = .14.
Overall, the present study made it possible to see the effects of early and intense L2 exposure on L1 by utilizing narratives elicited in both L1 and L2. Narratives of bilingual children have been studied more often in societies where L1 is not the dominant language (e.g., Akinci, Jisa, & Kern, 2001; Kaufman, 2001; Kupersmitt & Berman, 2001; Viberg, 2001), with a focus on the development of L2 and often with no data for L1 monolinguals that match the minority’s L1, with some exceptions (e.g., Verhoeven & Boeschoten, 1986). In this respect the results of the current study are important as they provide information on bilingual narrative development in an L1 dominant, high-SES context. Findings raise questions regarding how early immersion schooling should start and how it should be designed to enhance both L1 and L2.