General programme, activity sheet

Friday 9 September, 2016 12:30 to 13:00 Oral presentation
Syntactic Development by Children of immigrants in Production and Comprehension
Speaker: Yichun Kuo, National Chiayi University

Authors: Jenny Yichun Kuo

Research has found that many children of immigrants delayed in their development, and suspected language impairment to be the major cause (Chen &Chen, 2003; Wang, 2004; Teng, 2004). However, previous studies on the language development of children of immigrants have mixed results. Generally, children of immigrants fall behind in the preschool age and catch up with their peers as they enter school (e.g., Chen and Lin, 2006; Huang, 2006). Therefore, the present study investigated Mandarin syntactic development by preschool children of Thai immigrants in Taiwan. This is a three-year cross-sectional and longitudinal study starting with children aged 2-6 of Thai mothers, one male and one female in each age group. The production data includes their spontaneous speech supplemented with a question elicitation task. Comprehension tasks consist of comprehension of aspect markers and grammaticality judgment. The syntactic production was measured by length and sentence types in children’s spontaneous speech. The mean MLU of children with Thai mothers is 2.06, which is shorter than native Taiwanese children’s 3.61 (Kuo, 2011). The mean Mandarin Index of Productive Syntax of children with Thai mothers is 27.4, which is smaller than native Taiwanese children’s 39.1 (Kuo, 2011). Children of Thai mothers can produce complete questions as young as four and most of them were yes/no questions, but limited to have not have or is not is. The mean accuracy rate is 71.05% lower than 79.73% by native Taiwanese children. Children of Thai mothers performed slightly better than children of Taiwanese parents in aspect comprehension (71.06% vs. 70.48%) and grammaticality judgment (64.80% vs. 60.98%). Children of Thai mothers outperformed children of Taiwanese parents in syntactic comprehension, but fell behind in production. They produced shorter sentences and fewer sentence types. The results are consistent with their lexical development (Kuo, 2014). They may need assistance in speaking.
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