Aims of the project
In StarWords our aim is to characterize the early language development in bilingual children. To that end we test two groups of Polish bilingual children (focusing on children living in Norway and in the UK), and we compare their language development with that of their Polish monolingual peers. In StarWords we understand that parents wait for their children’s first words as if they were stars in a night sky!
Specifically, we want to estimate the bilinguals’ early language trajectory in both languages and investigate whether and how their Polish language development differs from Polish monolingual children. For this reason, we track language development in bilingual children in their two languages, starting from the moment they produce their first words to the age of 3-4 years.
Though our project focuses on Polish-Norwegian and Polish-English bilingual children, we encourage families speaking other second languages and multilingual families to download our StarWords app. We have adapted the app to multiple languages and we hope you will find it interesting!
Why is this important?
Until now, no one has investigated the trajectory of early language development in bilingual and monolingual children from their first words to the basic vocabulary at the age of 3-4 years. Our project will help to establish the exact age of reaching first milestones (first words and multiword utterances) by bilingual children and will show what characteristics of language environment influence the children’s development. With our results, we would like to lay a foundation for practical recommendations for parents and practitioners on how to effectively support language development in bilingual context.
StarWords project is coordinated by prof. Ewa Haman (University of Warsaw)
What does the testing look like?
In the StarWords project we are using a professional smartphone app and online standardized tools (parental reports). The app that we made allows parents to note their children’s new words, words that children make up (neologisms) and their first multiword utterances. Additionally, parents regularly answer questions about the child’s linguistic environment and the languages that the child hears. To help parents stay up-to-date with their child’s progress, the app sends regular notifications to log in. By being active in the app, parents gain access to additional materials: podcasts with researchers, articles and news on children’s development, language reports, coloring pages created from their child’s first words and vouchers for e-products from an online bookshop EMPIK.
A few times, parents are also asked to fill in standardized parental questionnaires (MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories, CDI). All of this will allow us to determine the exact age when bilingual and monolingual children start to talk (use their first words) and link that to later language development. What’s important, we will also be able to combine information about language trajectory with the characteristics of children’s language environment and many social factors.
If you are interested in the StarWords project, or have any questions, let us know! You can e-mail us at: [email protected]
is carried out at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw and financed by the National Science Center (OPUS 16 programme). Full title of the project: “New perspectives on assessing early language development in mono- and bilingual context: a web-based interactive parental report in a longitudinal study” (2018/31/B/HS6/03916).