Children’s willingness to accept labels in two languages: the role of exposure

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Rojo, Dolly P.

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Despite the increasing number of bilingual education programs in the US, the topic of children’s willingness to accept and learn new vocabulary from non-native speakers has been understudied. The present study focuses on the role of exposure to a non-English language, by investigating how varying amounts and sources of exposure play a role in children’s openness to accepting labels in Spanish. Ninety-eight 4- to 6-year old participants of varying language backgrounds were presented with novel object labels in Spanish and English, and were asked to endorse either or both labels. Children with large amounts of exposure to, but not fluent in, Spanish were more likely than minimally exposed monolingual children to endorse both the English and Spanish label, and importantly, did not differ from bilingual children. Monolingual children with minimal exposure to Spanish were the least likely of these three groups to endorse non-native labels. Language Awareness is also considered as a factor that may contribute to children’s willingness to endorse native and non-native labels.



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