The Effect of Bilingualism on Written Narrative Language

Lisa Schoenbrodt, Ariana Azzato


According to McComb (2001), about one in four Americans can hold a conversation in another language. In addition, the percentage of bilingual students has risen from 10% to 21% (USDOE: National Center for Education Statistics, 2012). With this increase in numbers, there is a need for continued research into methods of evaluation that are sensitive to documenting differences in language that may or may not be due to a language disorder. Oral and written narrative language evaluation is one method that has been studied and shown to be effective in evaluating the microstructure and macrostructure in monolingual and bilingual populations. However, most of the research that exists was conducted with children, and in particular, English/Spanish speakers. The purpose of the present study was to add to the body of research on written narratives by including adolescents, particularly college-age students. Ten bilingual and ten monolingual undergraduate students participated in this study. Students were instructed to provide a typed narrative after watching a video clip. Results showed significant differences in the areas of cohesion markers and subordination index. In addition, similarities were found amongst bilingual subjects for group and gender. Conclusions from this data can be used to develop further insight into characteristics of various groups in written narratives. This data is useful for SLP’s in using written narrative assessment in determining if a difference and/or disorder may exist.

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