Language Acquisition of Bilingual Children: A Network Analysis

Samuel BilsonUniversity of Warwick, Coventry, UK
Hanako YoshidaThe University of Houston, Texas, US
Thomas HillsUniversity of Warwick, Coventry, UK


Infants learning words in a bilingual language environment face a number of difficulties that may alter the number and kinds of words learned early in life. The research described here investigates several aspects of word learning that may differ between bilinguals and monolinguals. Using a dataset of 353 infants between the ages of 6 months and 7 years old, approximately half of which are bilingual, we examined three aspects of early word learning: 1) the rate of word learning, 2) the comparative structure of the English semantic network for monolingual and bilingual language learners and 3) how word acquisition in one language is affected by the other in bilingual children. Our results suggest that bilingual language learning follows the same pattern of acquisition as monolingual language learning in almost every respect but one. Though a model of language acquisition for monolingual children is a good predictor of bilingual acquisition, simulations based on this model under-predicts bilingual translational equivalents for many bilingual children. This suggests that learning a word in one language may facilitate its acquisition in a second language.


Language Acquisition of Bilingual Children: A Network Analysis (303 KB)

Back to Table of Contents