Turkish- and German-speaking bilingual 4-to-6-year-olds living in Sweden: Effects of age, SES and home language input on vocabulary production

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Bohnacker, Ute
Lindgren, Josefin
Öztekin, Buket

This paper investigates vocabulary production in the minority home languages of 40 Turkish-Swedish and 38 German-Swedish bilingual preschoolers aged 4;0–6;11, growing up in Sweden. We explore how age, SES, and exposure via mother-tongue instruction and home language use in the family affect child vocabulary skills. This has not previously been investigated in Sweden. Cross-linguistic Lexical Tasks (CLTs; Haman, Łuniewska & Pomiechowska, 2015) were used to test noun and verb production in Turkish and German. Background information was collected using a parental questionnaire. The two bilingual groups performed equally well in their respective home languages, Turkish and German. There were no effects of age, socio-economic status (SES) or mother-tongue instruction on vocabulary. However, input in the home setting had a clear effect. Children whose parents used the home language to the child and to each other had significantly higher vocabulary production scores. Having additional home-language input providers such as friends also affected the scores. These results from a Swedish context echo findings from studies of other language combinations and reveal the importance of input for the development of expressive vocabulary.

Bilingual, CLT (Cross-linguistic Lexical Task), German, input, preschoolers, Swedish, Turkish, vocabulary
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