Macrostructure in narratives produced by Lebanese Arabic-French bilingual children
Developmental trends and links with language dominance, exposure to narratives and lexical skills
Studies of macrostructure in bilingual children investigated potential age and language effects, without systematically taking into account bilingualism factors such as language dominance, exposure to narratives, and general language abilities. These issues were addressed in a study of macrostructure production by 69 bilingual Lebanese Arabic-French children aged 4–9. The children were administered the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives in the tell mode and a standardized conceptual vocabulary test. Parental questionnaires were also used to gather information on language exposure and use. Age effects and limited effects of language were found for all measures of macrostructure production (story structure, structural complexity and use of internal state terms). Significant correlations arose between these measures, vocabulary scores, and age, and between structural complexity scores and language dominance. Regression analyses revealed the predictive role of vocabulary in the development of macrostructure. These results are compatible with the idea that macrostructure is not language dependent. They also suggest that minimal language skills are needed for expressing macrostructure. The limited impact of bilingualism factors could stem from the fact that French and Lebanese Arabic are majority languages in Lebanon, meaning that the children had received continuous exposure to both languages, including within the school system.
Keywords: narrative macrostructure, bilingualism factors, vocabulary, Lebanese Arabic, French
Published online: 07 September 2021
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