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Journal Article

Cross-linguistic influence in simultaneous and early sequential bilingual children: A meta-analysis


Van Dijk,  Chantal N.
Center for Language Studies , External Organizations;
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Van Dijk, C. N., Van Wonderen, E., Koutamanis, E., Kootstra, G. J., Dijkstra, T., & Unsworth, S. (2022). Cross-linguistic influence in simultaneous and early sequential bilingual children: A meta-analysis. Journal of Child Language, 49(5), 897-929. doi:10.1017/S0305000921000337.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-6522-F
Although cross-linguistic influence at the level of morphosyntax is one of the most intensively studied topics in child bilingualism, the circumstances under which it occurs remain unclear. In this meta-analysis, we measured the effect size of cross-linguistic influence and systematically assessed its predictors in 750 simultaneous and early sequential bilingual children in 17 unique language combinations across 26 experimental studies. We found a significant small to moderate average effect size of cross-linguistic influence, indicating that cross-linguistic influence is part and parcel of bilingual development. Language dominance, operationalized as societal language, was a significant predictor of cross-linguistic influence, whereas surface overlap, language domain and age were not. Perhaps an even more important finding was that definitions and operationalisations of cross-linguistic influence and its predictors varied considerably between studies. This could explain the absence of a comprehensive theory in the field. To solve this issue, we argue for a more uniform method of studying cross-linguistic influence.