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Reflecting upon languages: When Bilingual Children's Metalinguistic Discourse inform about Multilingual Awareness

Abstract : Multilingual awareness, composed of metalinguistic and cross-linguistic awareness, has been developed in recent studies in bi/multilingualism. Research shows metalinguistic awareness is weakened when cross-linguistic syntactic transfers occur in bilinguals when passing a silent reading grammaticality judgement task. Moreover, sociolinguistic studies claim that the more children develop metalinguistic awareness, the more they are capable of metalinguistic comments. However, to date, no research has assessed the impact of cross-linguistic influence on multilingual awareness in French-Norwegian bilingual children by analyzing their metalinguistic discourse. In a sociocognitive framework, using a mixed method research design, this study aims to investigate how French Norwegian bilingual children's discourse can indicate metalinguistics skills and influence of cross-linguistic transfer on multilingual awareness. Firstly, 33 French-Norwegian bilingual children in 5 th grade judged French sentences in a reading grammaticality judgement task. Two specific Norwegian grammatical features were found to be potential sources of ungrammaticality: verb placement or use of preposition in prepositional verb. Secondly, judgment strategies, analysis and corrections of mistakes were collected in semi-structured interviews of 14 French-Norwegian bilingual children. Results obtained from grammaticality judgement task are asymmetrical: mistakes from verb placement are better detected than those from preposition use. Thus, it suggests the existence of metalinguistic awareness, but weakened by cross-linguistic syntactic transfer from Norwegian to French when prepositions are involved. In that case, multilingual awareness is also weakened. Moreover, content/discourse analysis based on dialogism theory and French praxematics suggests metalinguistic awareness through intralocutive dialogism and sentence actualization. It is more developed when commenting verbs than prepositions. This converges to the results suggested by the grammaticality judgement task analysis. Discourse analysis shows, however, cross-linguistic awareness through language comparisons which strengthens multilingual awareness. Findings contribute to our understanding of the link between multilingual awareness and cross-linguistic transfer in childhood bilingualism as well as of children's discursive markers of metalinguistic comments. [300 words]
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Submitted on : Monday, November 18, 2019 - 7:24:05 PM
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Sebastien Lucas. Reflecting upon languages: When Bilingual Children's Metalinguistic Discourse inform about Multilingual Awareness. Multilingual Awareness and Multilingual Practices. MAMP2019, MultiLinNet & Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, Dec 2019, Antwerp, Belgium. ⟨hal-02369226⟩

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