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How symbolic experience shapes children's symbolic flexibility

The current experiments asked whether children with dual-symbolic experience (e.g., unimodal bilingual and bimodal) develop a preference for words like monolingual children (Namy & Waxman, 1998). In Experiment 1, ninety-five 18- and 24-month-olds, with monolingual, unimodal bilingual, or bimodal symbolic experience, were tested in their willingness to treat digitized sounds as referents. In Experiment 2, forty-seven 24-month-olds, with the same types of symbolic experience, were tested in their willingness to treat novel words as referents. Monolingual children performed in ways indicative of a growing preference for words, whereas children with dual-symbolic experience performed in ways indicative of consistency in symbolic flexibility over time. Results suggest that the developmental trajectory of children's symbolic flexibility might depend on their symbolic experience.

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