The role of input quantity and quality in the developing language skills of Dutch-Greek bilingual children

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The language development of a child depends both on the quality and the quantity of their language exposure. While many studies have examined bilingual language development in relation to the quality and the quantity of input, there are still some aspects that have not been explored in detail. Thus, the aim of this study was to fill in some of those gaps by examining how cumulative exposure, input of older siblings and parental language mixing affect the language development of Dutch-Greek 16 to 30-months-old bilingual children. Three parental questionnaires (CDI, BiLEC and Language Mixing Scale) were used to answer this study’s research questions. The results of the current study showed that cumulative exposure is a significant predictor of children’s vocabulary and grammatical development in both languages. Furthermore, this study showed that older siblings’ input influences not only the language development of bilingual children in their societal language but also in their heritage language mainly in families where both parents are native speakers of the minority language, showing that older siblings are valuable sources and important agents of language input and use in bilingual homes. As far as the parental language mixing is concerned, the results of this study further promote the existing literature by showing that not only maternal and paternal language mixing are differently related to the language development of bilingual children, but also that the effect of language mixing depends on the addressee’s proficiency, as well as in the context and in the way in which it is used. In conclusion, this study has theoretical implications by expanding previous findings, as well as pedagogical ones promoting more adequate parental language input strategies through a better understanding of the relationship between input and bilingual language development.
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