A new publication by Magdalena Łuniewska, Marta Wójcik, Joanna Kołak, Karolina Mieszkowska, Zofia Wodniecka and Ewa Haman is now available: Word knowledge and lexical access in monolingual and bilingual migrant children: Impact of word properties Click here for more information!
Word knowledge and the speed of word processing in monolingual children and adults are influenced by word properties, such as the age of acquisition (AoA), imageability, and frequency. Understanding how different properties of words contribute to the ease of processing by bilingual children is a critical step for establishing models of childhood bilingualism. However, a joint impact of these properties has not been so far assessed in bilingual children. Here, we compared the impact of AoA, imageability, and frequency on accuracy and response times in picture naming and picture recognition tasks in monolingual and bilingual children. We used Cross-Linguistic Lexical Tasks to test 45 monolingual children (aged 4 to 7 years) and 45 migrant bilingual children in their L1 (Polish). Word AoA, imageability, and frequency independently affected the accuracy and response times in both picture naming and picture recognition tasks. Crucially, bilingual children were more sensitive to word characteristics than their monolingual peers: Bilingual children’s accuracy was particularly low for words of high AoA (in the picture recognition task) and for words of low frequency (in the picture naming task). Also, the increase in response times for low-imageable and low-frequent words was particularly salient in bilingual children. The results suggest a new area of interest for further studies: the question of whether bilinguals and monolinguals show different sensitivity to psycholinguistic factors, and if so, does that sensitivity change with age or language exposure?