Why is Number Word Learning Hard? Evidence from Bilingual Learners

Abstract

We investigated the developmental trajectory of number word learning in bilingual preschoolers to examine the relative contributions of two factors: (1) the construction of numerical concepts, and (2) the mapping of language-specific words onto these concepts. We found that children learn the meanings of small numbers independently in each language, indicating that the delay in the acquisition of small numbers is mainly due to language-specific processes of mapping words to concepts. In contrast, the logic and procedures of counting are learned simultaneously in both languages, indicating that these stages require the construction of numerical concepts that are not stored in a language-specific format.


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