Oller, D. K.,
Pearson, B. Z., & Cobo-Lewis, A. B. (2007). Profile effects in early
bilingual language and literacy. Applied
Psycholinguistics, 28 (2), 191-230.
English-speaking bilingual and
monolingual children perform differently on language tests. The scores of the
monolingual group are usually higher, though not always. The pattern of group
differences could be related to the aspect of language being investigated, an
idea investigated in this paper.
Data were reanalyzed from 620 children in 2nd and
5th grades collected as part of a broad-scale study of monolingual
English and bilingual Spanish–English learners in Miami. Findings showed no group differences in basic reading (phonics) tasks, but lower oral vocabulary scores for
the bilingual Spanish–English than monolingual English learners.
Oller et al. explained
this pattern of findings in terms of the “distributed characteristic” of the
bilinguals’ knowledge. For bilingual speakers, some vocabulary items may be
experienced in one setting and one language while other items are experienced
in another setting and the other language. For example, words like ‘sewing’ may
be used at home in Spanish, whereas ‘recess’ may occur at school in English. There
are so many words being encountered, that the frequency of hearing (at least
some) words in both languages may be low. As a result, lexical knowledge is
‘distributed’ across both languages leading but vocabulary level remains lower
than monolingual peers in each language.
learning two languages requires bilingual children to learn all the phonics of
each language. Still, the total number of phonemes across both languages will
be small allowing for the child to have frequent experiences with all the
phonemes of the languages. Phonemic knowledge, then, is not distributed, but
the same across languages. As s result, bilingual and monolingual groups do not
differ in phonological analysis skills such as those employed basic reading
These findings suggest that the distributed characteristic
of bilinguals’ knowledge across two languages has important
implications for their language and literacy abilities.
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Posted By Project Coordinator to The Canadian SLP
at 10/06/2014 03:19:00 PM