Semantic Development in Spanish-English Bilingual Children: Effects of Age and Language Experience

Li Sheng, Lisa M. Bedore, Elizabeth D. Peña, Christine Fiestas

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines semantic development in 60 Spanish-English bilingual children, ages 7 years 3 months to 9 years 11 months, who differed orthogonally in age (younger, older) and language experience (higher English experience [HEE], higher Spanish experience [HSE]). Children produced 3 associations to 12 pairs of translation equivalents. Older children produced more semantic responses and code switched more often from Spanish to English than younger children. Within each group, children demonstrated better performance in the more frequently used than the less used language. The HEE children outperformed the HSE children in English and the HSE children outperformed the HEE children in Spanish. These effects of age and language experience are consistent with predictions of the revised hierarchical model of bilingual lexical organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1034-1045
Number of pages12
JournalChild Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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