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The Morphosyntactic Abilities of Bilingual Malay Preschool Children Based on the Malay and English Sentence Repetition Tasks

Zur Hanis Hamim, Rogayah Abdul Razak and Badrulzaman Abdul Hamid

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue 1, March 2021


Keywords: Bilingualism, morphosyntax abilities, second-language acquisition, sentence repetition task

Published on: 26 March 2021

Sentence repetition task has been proven to be a tool that can detect language difficulties and is indicative of abnormal language. In Malaysia, studies on the language abilities of bilingual children in sentence repetition (SR) tasks are sparse. Therefore, this study is aimed at examining the morphosyntactic abilities of 60 bilingual Malay children aged 4;0 to 6;11 based on SR tasks in Malay (L1) and English (L2). In the SR task, participants were asked to listen carefully to sentences being read out and then repeat verbatim the sentences heard. Their responses were scored based on accuracy, syntax, grammar, and word categories. The findings demonstrated a significant difference between the two languages in terms of accuracy [df= 118, t=1.990, p= .049]; the Malay language had statistically higher scores compared to English scores. There was also a significant difference on the performance based on age factor, [Malay (df5,54=3.561, p= .007); English (df5,54=2.894, p= .022)]. The results also revealed that the omission of both content and function words was more prominent compared to other error types. A triangulation of the quantitative and qualitative data was done. The findings highlighted the morphosyntactic abilities of the bilingual children in both languages and error patterns produced.

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