Demonstrative Comprehension in Spanish/English Bilingual Children

UNM’s Lobo Language Acquisition Lab aims to provide useful insights for communities that seek to support the Spanish/English bilingual families in their community. One important project being pursued in our lab focuses on children’s acquisition of demonstratives across languages. Demonstratives, which are words like ‘this’ and ‘that,’ are sometimes considered ‘pointers,’ as they signal a referent. However, in order to investigate what speakers know, we also must study what they understand. While previous literature has stated that demonstrative comprehension relies heavily on cognitive development, studies on the production of bilingual Spanish/English speakers’ use of demonstratives have shown that there may be a correlation between the choice of demonstrative that the child produces and their amount of language input. Further, bilingual children may have a different understanding of demonstratives than monolingual children. These conclusions are primarily based on investigations studying children’s language production. In order to determine whether bilingual children differ from monolingual children in their understanding of demonstratives, a comprehension study is necessary. This presentation will review previous research on Spanish-English bilinguals’ demonstratives and then will present preliminary results from a newly designed task that will test comprehension of demonstratives in Spanish and English.