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Description: Language mixing is common in bilingual children’s learning environments. Here, we investigated effects of language mixing on children’s learning of new words. We tested two groups of 3-year-old bilinguals: French–English (Experiment 1) and Spanish–English (Experiment 2). Children were taught two novel words, one in single-language sentences (“Look! Do you see the dog on the teelo?”) and one in mixed-language sentences with a mid-sentence language switch (“Look! Do you see the chien/perro on the walem?). During the learning phase, children correctly identified novel targets when hearing both single-language and mixed-language sentences. However, at test, French–English bilinguals did not successfully recognize the word encountered in mixed-language sentences. Spanish–English bilinguals failed to recognize either word, which illustrates the importance of examining multiple bilingual populations. These findings suggest that language mixing can sometimes hinder children’s encoding of novel words that occur downstream, but leave open several possible underlying mechanisms.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

Has supplemental materials for Effects of language mixing on bilingual children’s word learning on PsyArXiv


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