Narrative language development of Persian-English bilingual children attending an immersion preschool
Purpose: This study aimed to provide a better understanding of the language development of bilingual children who attend a Persian immersion preschool in the United States, with a specific focus on their microstructural language skills derived from a story retell task.opportunities to use their languages, compared to monolingual children. For monolin gual children, their language input and use revolve around one language, the language that tends to be spoken by the majority of people in their environment. One unique subset of multilingual children is those who attend immersion schools. Immersion schools aim to improve children’s language skills by increasing the input and produc tion of a language not spoken by the majority of people in a country. For example, in the United States, this would be a language other than English. Relatively little is known regarding the language skills of children who attend immersion schools, particularly those of very young children whose immersion school is supporting a less commonly taught language, such as Persian (also known as Farsi) in the United States. Thus, the overarching goal of the current study was to better understand the language development of preschool children who attended a Persian immersion school in the United States.
Methods Participants included two groups of preschoolers: 14 Persian-English bilingual children who attended a Persian immersion preschool (2-through 5-years of age) and 16 monolingual English-speaking children who attended an English-only preschool (3-through 5-years of age). Participants completed a story retell task, and their parents completed a questionnaire regarding their child’s language environment.
Results Analyses revealed that Persian-English bilingual children produced narratives that are comparable to their same-aged, English monolingual peers with regard to measures of microstructure. Furthermore, mean length of utterance in morphemes was significantly associated with parental language input, positively with Persian input, and negatively with English input.
Conclusions Findings demonstrate that Persian-English bilingual children who attend a Persian immersion preschool develop English to a level comparable to same-age English monolingual peers based on language produced during a story retell task.