Early grammatical acquisition in children adopted from China as infants/toddlers

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  • Children adopted internationally have a special course of exposure to language as they abruptly switch from hearing the sounds of their birth language, to which they typically are not further exposed post-adoption, to the sounds of a new language (Glennen, 2002; Roberts et al., 2005). The quick transition to a new language and rapid attrition of the birth language is a challenge developmentally. This study looked at the English grammatical development of children adopted from China in comparison to that of norms based on non-adopted peers. Age at time of adoption had a significant impact on grammatical development. Children adopted from China acquired English bound morphemes in the same sequential order as non-adopted peers, but were delayed in their acquisition due to their later onset of exposure to English. The older children were at the time of adoption, the faster they acquired bound morphemes and complex sentences. However, because older children had more grammar to learn in order to catch up to non-adopted peers, they lagged further behind.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International