The Initial Learning of Novel English Words Two Single-Subject Experiments with Minority-Language Children Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1990
The Initial Learning of Novel English Words
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Barbara Kiernan
    University of Arizona
  • Linda Swisher
    University of Arizona
  • Requests for reprints should be sent to Barbara Kiernan, Child Language Laboratory, Dept. of Speech & Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721.
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1990
The Initial Learning of Novel English Words
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1990, Vol. 33, 707-716. doi:10.1044/jshr.3304.707
History: Received November 10, 1989 , Accepted April 27, 1990
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1990, Vol. 33, 707-716. doi:10.1044/jshr.3304.707
History: Received November 10, 1989; Accepted April 27, 1990

The two single-subject, alternating treatment design experiments reported here investigated the initial learning of novel words by minority-language children acquiring English as a second language. Four Spanish- and 3 Navajo-speaking children (ages 4:11–6:3) served as subjects. The results for all children in both experiments supported the hypothesis that receptive learning of novel words in a second language would reach a pre-established criterion in fewer trials under a bilingual compared with a monolingual condition. In addition, several children in each study met the learning criterion for both first and second language words in the bilingual condition in approximately the same number of trials needed to reach criterion for the second language words in the monolingual condition. Neither study suggested that the degree of a subject’s relative language dominance influenced the learning patterns. The findings are discussed in relation to the linguistic, language-related, and learning requirements of the experimental tasks.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This manuscript is based on research supported by funding from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation’s Arlene Matkin Award to Barbara Kiernan and from the U.S. Department of Education Grant #G008630088 to Linda Swisher.
The authors acknowledge the cooperation of directors, teachers, parents, and graduate students who assisted us and the children who participated in the studies. We also acknowledge the contribution of Robert Boies who developed the Spanish stimuli and assisted Nora Tso and Christine Begay who developed the Navajo stimuli. In addition, we wish to thank Kathy Rupp for her contributions to earlier versions of this manuscript. Portions of this manuscript were presented at the 1988 Annual TESOL Convention held in Chicago, Illinois.
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