English Speech Sound Development in Preschool-Aged Children From Bilingual English–Spanish Environments Purpose English speech acquisition by typically developing 3- to 4-year-old children with monolingual English was compared to English speech acquisition by typically developing 3- to 4-year-old children with bilingual English–Spanish backgrounds. We predicted that exposure to Spanish would not affect the English phonetic inventory but would increase error frequency and ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2008
English Speech Sound Development in Preschool-Aged Children From Bilingual English–Spanish Environments
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Christina E. Gildersleeve-Neumann
    Portland State University, Portland, OR
  • Ellen S. Kester
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Barbara L. Davis
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Elizabeth D. Peña
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Contact author: Christina Gildersleeve-Neumann, Speech and Hearing Sciences Department, P.O. Box 751, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207-0751. E-mail: cegn@pdx.edu.
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2008
English Speech Sound Development in Preschool-Aged Children From Bilingual English–Spanish Environments
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2008, Vol. 39, 314-328. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/030)
History: Received November 2, 2005 , Revised April 4, 2006 , Accepted July 4, 2007
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2008, Vol. 39, 314-328. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/030)
History: Received November 2, 2005; Revised April 4, 2006; Accepted July 4, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 36

Purpose English speech acquisition by typically developing 3- to 4-year-old children with monolingual English was compared to English speech acquisition by typically developing 3- to 4-year-old children with bilingual English–Spanish backgrounds. We predicted that exposure to Spanish would not affect the English phonetic inventory but would increase error frequency and type in bilingual children.

Method Single-word speech samples were collected from 33 children. Phonetically transcribed samples for the 3 groups (monolingual English children, English–Spanish bilingual children who were predominantly exposed to English, and English–Spanish bilingual children with relatively equal exposure to English and Spanish) were compared at 2 time points and for change over time for phonetic inventory, phoneme accuracy, and error pattern frequencies.

Results Children demonstrated similar phonetic inventories. Some bilingual children produced Spanish phonemes in their English and produced few consonant cluster sequences. Bilingual children with relatively equal exposure to English and Spanish averaged more errors than did bilingual children who were predominantly exposed to English. Both bilingual groups showed higher error rates than English-only children overall, particularly for syllable-level error patterns. All language groups decreased in some error patterns, although the ones that decreased were not always the same across language groups. Some group differences of error patterns and accuracy were significant. Vowel error rates did not differ by language group.

Conclusion Exposure to English and Spanish may result in a higher English error rate in typically developing bilinguals, including the application of Spanish phonological properties to English. Slightly higher error rates are likely typical for bilingual preschool-aged children. Change over time at these time points for all 3 groups was similar, suggesting that all will reach an adult-like system in English with exposure and practice.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The data for this study were collected while the first author was at The University of Texas at Austin. Funding for data collection was provided to the first author by a Department of Education Leadership Training Grant (H325D000029) that was awarded to Thomas Marquardt, Department of Communication Science and Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin.
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