Assessing narrative development in bilingual first language acquisition

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Developing appropriate developmental expectations for children exposed to more than one language from birth has become a pivotal task for many researchers across the globe. While it is important to understand why monolingual norms are not always applicable as norms for speakers of superdiverse environments, it is equally important to recognize areas in which monolingual norms are useful in super diverse environments. This study focuses on this issue. Specifically, the study looks at whether language development for 6–7 years old simultaneous bilinguals shares the same developmental milestones with language development data from monolingual children. The analysis is based on narrative data produced by 6 Albanian-speaking monolingual children in Albania and 6 Albanian-Greek speaking bilingual children in Greece.The results are surprising in that data from monolingual children and data from bilingual children show different developmental paths depending on whether micro structure or macro structure language elements are considered. When micro structure language data are taken into consideration, results indicate that monolinguals differ significantly from bilinguals. However, when macro structure elements are considered, then both monolinguals and bilinguals appear to perform at similar levels. In other words, the results from this study suggest that it may be useful and appropriate to use monolingual norms for speakers of superdiverse environments only in terms of assessing macro structure elements of bilinguals’ language, but not micro structure elements.


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