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Academic Paper


Title: The semantic network, lexical access, and reading comprehension in monolingual and bilingual children: An individual differences study
Author: Tessa Spätgens
Author: Rob Schoonen
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Cognitive Science; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: Dutch
Abstract: Using a semantic priming experiment, the influence of lexical access and knowledge of semantic relations on reading comprehension was studied in Dutch monolingual and bilingual minority children. Both context-independent semantic relations in the form of category coordinates and context-dependent semantic relations involving concepts that co-occur in certain contexts were tested in an auditory animacy decision task, along with lexical access. Reading comprehension and the control variables vocabulary size, decoding skill, and mental processing speed were tested by means of standardized tasks. Mixed-effects modeling was used to obtain individual priming scores and to study the effect of individual differences in the various predictor variables on the reading scores. Semantic priming was observed for the coordinate pairs but not the context-dependently related pairs, and neither context-independent priming nor lexical access predicted reading comprehension. Only vocabulary size significantly contributed to the reading scores, emphasizing the importance of the number of words known for reading comprehension. Finally, the results show that the monolingual and bilingual children perform similarly on all measures, suggesting that in the current Dutch context, language status may not be highly predictive of vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension skill.

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This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 39, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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