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Lexical access and competition in bilingual children: The role of proficiency and the lexical similarity of the two languages

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JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
DateSubmitted - 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Oct 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 23 Nov 2018
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)103-125
Early online date23/11/18
Original languageEnglish


Using a picture-auditory-word recognition task we examine how early child bilinguals access their languages and how the languages affect one another. Accuracy and response times in false friends and semantically related words are compared to control conditions within and across languages and grades. Study 1 tests the performance of school-age children with balanced vs. unbalanced knowledge of L1 Italian and L2 German. Study 2 compares unbalanced bilingual children with L1 Italian and L2 French or German to investigate the effect of lexical similarity in the children’s languages. The children were found to activate both languages upon receiving an auditory stimulus:
Performance in each language was affected by proficiency in the other, degree of between-language similarity, and length of experience with each language. The BLINCS model is invoked as a plausible framework for conceptualizing the nature of bilingual phono-lexical representation and its effect on word recognition.

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