Volume 12, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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Previous studies show mixed findings concerning whether higher-order story structure (macrostructure) is similar across bilinguals’ two languages. It is not known how macrostructure is influenced by general language proficiency and amount of exposure. The present study investigates these issues in 46 German-Swedish bilingual 4- to 6-year-olds. Narratives were elicited in both languages with two picture-based tasks from the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN) in the telling mode. We investigate to what extent the language of elicitation (Swedish vs German) influences bilingual children’s macrostructure (story structure, episodic complexity) and explore effects of narrative task, age, narrative length, expressive vocabulary and estimated language exposure, both separately and combined, on macrostructure in the respective language. Results show that macrostructural skills developed measurably with age from 4 to 6 years in both languages, with no task effects. Story structure scores were higher in the majority language Swedish than in German and developed differently with age. The effect of narrative length on story structure was similar in the two languages. Language exposure did not have any significant effect. Macrostructure scores were significantly affected by expressive vocabulary in German only. Generally, the results may be linked to slightly higher language proficiency in Swedish.


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