Narratives in Two Languages: Storytelling of Bilingual Cantonese–English Preschoolers Purpose The aim of this study was to compare narratives generated by 4-year-old and 5-year-old children who were bilingual in English and Cantonese. Method The sample included 47 children (23 who were 4 years old and 24 who were 5 years old) living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2016
Narratives in Two Languages: Storytelling of Bilingual Cantonese–English Preschoolers
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Stefano Rezzonico
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Ahuva Goldberg
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Katy Ka-Yan Mak
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Stephanie Yap
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Trelani Milburn
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Adriana Belletti
    Università di Siena, Italy
  • Luigi Girolametto
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Stefano Rezzonico: stefano.rezzonico@utoronto.ca
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Margarita Kaushanskaya
    Associate Editor: Margarita Kaushanskaya×
Article Information
Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2016
Narratives in Two Languages: Storytelling of Bilingual Cantonese–English Preschoolers
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2016, Vol. 59, 521-532. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0052
History: Received February 4, 2015 , Revised June 12, 2015 , Accepted September 14, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2016, Vol. 59, 521-532. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0052
History: Received February 4, 2015; Revised June 12, 2015; Accepted September 14, 2015

Purpose The aim of this study was to compare narratives generated by 4-year-old and 5-year-old children who were bilingual in English and Cantonese.

Method The sample included 47 children (23 who were 4 years old and 24 who were 5 years old) living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who spoke both Cantonese and English. The participants spoke and heard predominantly Cantonese in the home. Participants generated a story in English and Cantonese by using a wordless picture book; language order was counterbalanced. Data were transcribed and coded for story grammar, morphosyntactic quality, mean length of utterance in words, and the number of different words.

Results Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed higher story grammar scores in English than in Cantonese, but no other significant main effects of language were observed. Analyses also revealed that older children had higher story grammar, mean length of utterance in words, and morphosyntactic quality scores than younger children in both languages. Hierarchical regressions indicated that Cantonese story grammar predicted English story grammar and Cantonese microstructure predicted English microstructure. However, no correlation was observed between Cantonese and English morphosyntactic quality.

Conclusions The results of this study have implications for speech-language pathologists who collect narratives in Cantonese and English from bilingual preschoolers. The results suggest that there is a possible transfer in narrative abilities between the two languages.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Canada), and the first author is the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship granted by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Switzerland). The authors express their gratitude to the parents and children and the Cantonese community in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for their active participation in the study. Also, we thank the editors and reviewers for their relevant suggestions and comments.
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