Modelling vocabulary development among multilingual children prior to and following the transition to school entry
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Publisher(s)Taylor & Francis
Differences between monolingual and multilingual vocabulary development have been observed but few studies provide a longitudinal perspective on vocabulary development before and following school entry. This study compares vocabulary growth profiles of 106 multilingual children to 211 monolingual peers before and after school entry to examine whether: (1) school entry coincides with different rates of vocabulary growth compared to prior to school entry, (2) compared to monolingual peers, multilingual children show different vocabulary sizes or rates of vocabulary growth, (3) the age of onset of second-language acquisition for multilingual children is associated with vocabulary size or rate of vocabulary growth, and (4) the sociolinguistic context of the languages spoken by multilingual children is associated with vocabulary size or rate of vocabulary growth. Results showed increases in vocabulary size across time for all children, with a steeper increase prior to school entry. A significant difference between monolingual and multilingual children who speak a minority language was observed with regards to vocabulary size at school entry and vocabulary growth prior to school entry, but growth rate differences were no longer present following school entry. Taken together, results suggest that which languages children speak may matter more than being multilingual per se.