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Language Minority Children’s Sensitivity to the Semantic Relations Between Words

The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether Spanish-speaking language minority children develop conceptual knowledge (Cummins, 1981) that is common to their two languages
alongside development of proficiency in their first (L1) and second (L2) languages. Seventy-three first and second grade children completed two semantic priming tasks (i.e., a lexical
decision task and a preferential looking paradigm) that were designed to examine children's sensitivity to the semantic relations between words within and across languages. It was
hypothesized that within- and cross-language semantic priming effects would occur but that translation priming effects would not occur. Overall, results did not support hypotheses, as
consistent semantic priming effects were not observed across the two tasks. However, limited evidence for semantic priming effects within English and from English to Spanish did emerge on
the preferential looking paradigm. Substantial evidence for translation priming effects from Spanish-to-English was observed on the preferential looking paradigm. Children's Spanish
vocabulary knowledge moderated translation priming effects on the lexical decision task. Although this pattern of results was not consistent with hypotheses, it was similar to the pattern
of relations between bilingual individuals' L1 and L2 proposed by the revised hierarchical model (Kroll and Stewart, 1994). The results of this study indicated that Spanish-speaking
language minority children rely on translation from their non-dominant to their dominant language to access meaning. Additionally, results provided limited evidence that information in the
dominant and non-dominant language is activated simultaneously, indicating that children have conceptual knowledge that is common to both their L1 and L2. / A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. / Fall Semester 2015. / September 1, 2015. / language minority, semantic priming / Includes bibliographical references. / Christopher J. Lonigan, Professor Directing Dissertation; Carla Wood, University Representative; Arielle Borovsky, Committee Member; Michael Kaschak,
Committee Member; Rick Wagner, Committee Member.
ContributorsGoodrich, John Marc (authoraut), Lonigan, Christopher J. (professor directing dissertation), Wood, Carla (university representative), Borovsky, Arielle A. (Arielle Ann) (committee member), Kaschak, Michael P. (committee member), Wagner, Richard K. (committee member), Florida State University (degree granting institution), College of Arts and Sciences (degree granting college), Department of Psychology (degree granting department)
PublisherFlorida State University
Source SetsFlorida State University
LanguageEnglish, English
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeText, text
Format1 online resource (74 pages), computer, application/pdf

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