The Tatar-Russian Bilingualism in Early Childhood
Keywords:Tatar language, Russian, balanced bilingualism, early childhood
The paper presents findings from psycholinguistic research with normally developing preschool Tatar-Russian bilingual children between the age of 4;0 to 6;0 years old. Forty children in total- twenty children between the age of 4;0 -5;0, and twenty children between the age of 5;0-6;0 were tested. Children with language impairment and mental disabilities were excluded from the study. All children attend a polylingual kindergarten, where the children learn in organized way the following three languages: their mother tongue - the state language of the Tatarstan - the Tatar language, Russian - the official language of the Russian Federation to which Tatarstan belongs, and English. The children were tested with two types of language tests: Syntactic test (wh-complement tests) and mix Tatar-Russian vocabulary test (comprehension and production). They were also tested with a psychological non-verbal Knock Tap test. All children were tested individually in a separate room by a native Tatar speaking and Russian speaking researcher. In order to avoid the influence of the language of testing on the results half of the children were tested with part of the tests in Tatar language and the other part in Russian language. The next day they were changing the languages and the tests. The research question we try to answer is: Do the children develop balanced bilingualism in the kindergarten age having in mind the educational system they are involved in or they are dominant in one of the two languages. The results of the children are analyzed with the ANOVA and SPSS Statistics. They show that the older children are better in all tests. Regarding the language the younger children show poor results in Tatar and better results in Russian. The older children show equally good results in both languages. The paper discusses the classical theory of Skutnabb-Kangas (1981) and newest findings of Bialystok (2020) regarding the bilingualism and bilingual education from early ages and which factors play important role in successful development of balanced bilingualism from early age.
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