Department of Education Public Seminar delivered by Professor Theodoros Marinis on sequential bilingual children.
The seminar will look at the acquisition of definiteness in sequential bilingual (L2) children, children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), and agematched typically developing (TD) children across three languages: English, Dutch, and Greek. Accurate use of definiteness requires the acquisition of syntax, semantics, and discoursepragmatics. Previous studies on the acquisition of definiteness have shown that L2 children and children with SLI are less accurate than TD children in the use of definite and indefinite articles and show errors of omission and/or substitution (e.g., Chondrogianni, 2008; Polite, Leonard, & Roberts, 2011; Zdorenko & Paradis, 2011). However, it is unclear whether the two groups of children have the same underlying difficulties in the acquisition of definiteness because different tasks have been used in each study and there is a lack of studies comparing the groups directly. Moreover, most studies have focused on production and very fewhave addressed the children’s comprehension. To address the acquisition of definiteness in these groups we used the same tasks in all groups: an online production task, involving short stories based on Schafer & de Villiers (2000), examined the use of definite and indefinite articles in different semantic and discoursepragmatic contexts. A selfpaced listening experiment with grammatical violations tested the children’s subconscious reflex to grammatical violations caused by the online comprehension of sentences with article omission. The results reveal important betweengroup differences and shed light to their specific underlying difficulties. Moreover, they demonstrate that production data underestimate the children’s grammatical abilities.