Imperfective and perfective aspect comprehension in bilingual Mandarin-English children
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As bilingual populations continue to grow throughout the world, there is a greater need to better understand how language is acquired in bilinguals and find common patterns of language development for clinical purposes. The goal of this study is to better understand the acquisition of aspect markers in bilingual Mandarin-English children who are growing up in an English-dominant environment. 14 typically developing bilingual children from ages 3 to 5 participated in the study. Children were asked to interpret a spoken sentence that contained either a perfective or imperfect aspect by selecting the correct picture on a computer screen. Results revealed significant correlations between performance on --ed and --le, the perfective aspect markers in English and Mandarin, and provided evidence of morphosyntactic transfer with respect to aspect marking. No significant correlation was found for --ing and zai, the imperfective aspect markers for English and Mandarin. Also, children performed significantly better when comprehending sentences with imperfective aspects. In addition, significant correlations were found between age and aspect proficiency, but not between amount of current language use and aspect proficiency. Finally, clinical implications and future directions are discussed.