Relations among children’s theory of mind, family factors, language development, and story comprehension in L1 and L2 preschoolers

Author/s:

Markel, Clarisa*
Human Development and Applied Psychology Department, University of Toronto, Canada (clarisa.markel@utoronto.ca)

Major, Ashley
Human Development and Applied Psychology Department, University of Toronto, Canada (ashley.major@utoronto.ca)

Pelletier, Janette
Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, Canada (janette.pelletier@utoronto.ca)

Abstract:

This study examined the relation of family factors, vocabulary, and reading skills to theory of mind development and fables comprehension in children who spoke English as a first language (L1) and children who spoke English as a second language (L2). These factors were examined in 170 preschool children who spoke Arabic, Chinese, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Vietnamese, Urdu, English, or a European language as a first language. All children were being schooled in English. General vocabulary more than any other factor predicted how well L1 and L2 learners performed on theory of mind and fables comprehension tasks. Children’s reading skills contributed to fables understanding for L1 but not for L2 children. For all children, sibling status influenced vocabulary skills. Parental education was related to children’s vocabulary and reading skills in the L1 group only. The results of this study provide support for the importance of considering the differential needs of first and second language learners.

Keywords: theory of mind; L2 learners; family factors; vocabulary; reading skills

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsp.2012.157

*Corresponding Author