Wednesday Seminar: A Sociocognitive Cross-Sectional Study of Metasyntactic Awareness and Cross-Linguistic Influence in French-Norwegian Bilingual Children in Oslo

Sébastien Lucas (MA), from Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage in Situ, University of Rouen, Normandy, France and affiliated to MultiLing, will give a talk on the link between cross-linguistic influence in bilingualism between French and Norwegian, metasyntactic awareness, and family language ideology and practices.

Recent studies on second language acquisition and bi/multilingualism have shown evidence of cross-linguistic influence when assessing metalinguistic awareness. Syntactic transfers related to word order patterns between two languages have been well-documented. However, to date no research has investigated that link between French and Norwegian, and bilingual family language policy.

In a sociocognitive, Bilingual First Language Acquisition framework, using a mixed method research design, this cross-sectional research aims to investigate the link between cross-linguistic influence in bilingualism between French and Norwegian, metasyntactic awareness, and family language planning and practices. Firstly, French-Norwegian bilingual children in the 5th grade (n=33) and French children living in France (n=30) judged French sentences in a reading grammaticality judgement. Two specific Norwegian grammatical features were found to be potential sources of ungrammaticality:  verb placement or use of preposition in prepositional verb. Secondly, Judgment strategies and corrections were collected in semi-structured interviews of some French-Norwegian bilingual children (n=14). Thirdly, parents (n=66) were asked to answer a sociolinguistic questionnaire informing about their attitude towards code-mixing and their corrective feedback.

Results obtained from reading grammatically judgement task show high scores and no significant differences between French-Norwegian bilingual and French monolingual groups for grammatical/ungrammatical verb-placement related sentences. By contrast, monolingual group outperformed significantly their bilingual peers when the ungrammaticality came from preposition use. Thus, it suggests the existence of syntactic cross-linguistic transfer only when prepositions are involved. Moreover, qualitative analysis of metalinguistic discourse suggests metasyntactic skills, cross-linguistic awareness through explicit comparison between both languages, cross-linguistic influence from Norwegian to French, and controlled activation/inhibition of languages. Finally, questionnaires show attention towards code-mixing, explicit planning, and use of explicit corrective strategies.

Findings contribute to our understanding of the link between cross-linguistic awareness, metasyntactic awareness in childhood bilingualism and family language planning and practices as well as of cross-linguistic transfer during reading comprehension task.


Sébastien Lucas is a PhD candidate at the DYLIS research center, Université de Rouen Normandie, France. Lucas completed his MA degree in linguistics at Rouen University, France, in 2012, with the project “Didactics, Multilinguism, Sociocognition: Lexical polysemy and knowledge transfer in multilingual children at the René Cassin French School of Oslo”. Since 2006, he has been living in Oslo and working as an elementary teacher and a special education teacher for French as a language of education at the French School of Oslo, Lycée René Cassin, as well as a teacher for French as a foreign language at Folkeuniversitetet in Oslo.In his PhD project, Lucas examines how French-Norwegian bilingual children reflect consciously upon the syntax of sentences. The project aims to bridge the gap between psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics about metalinguistic skills and awareness. Lucas especially examines how languages are acquired and how they affect each other. He further explores how family language policies and practices can influence the way bilingual children reflect upon languages. In that matter, his PhD project is connected to one of MultiLing’s flagship projects, MultiFam: Family language policy in multilingual transcultural families.

Lucas is also a participant in the project Language Contact and Language Change across Three Generations in Turkish Families in Norway and France, a joint research project between MultiLing and Université de Rouen Normandie.


Olga Solovova
Published May 25, 2019 10:41 AM - Last modified Oct. 15, 2019 3:57 PM