A Longitudinal Investigation Of A Sequential Arabic-English Bilingual Child's Vocabulary Development

Seba A. Alhindawy

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to explore the lexical development of a sequential bilingual Arabic-English speaking child. The study contributes to the growing research literature on the language behaviors of early bilingual children and specifically to the discussion of bilingual developmental milestones. The child's vocabulary growth was assessed over the course of a year with the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI-III, English and Arabic versions), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-4), parent interviews, and the Frog Story Narrative Test. Lexical measures were analyzed over time and indicated that the child progressed in the dominant language, English, similarly to the developmental trajectories of monolingual children, regardless of the bilingual exposure in the home. Both lexical and syntactic development halted in the native language after immersion in English. The findings suggest that balanced bilingualism is difficult to maintain even for sequential bilingual children, regardless of parents' linguistic skills, in the absence of a language community for the minority language.