Reading and Writing

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 385–414

Language and preliteracy skills in bilinguals and monolinguals at preschool age: effects of exposure to richly inflected speech from birth


DOI: 10.1007/s11145-009-9206-6

Cite this article as:
Silvén, M. & Rubinov, E. Read Writ (2010) 23: 385. doi:10.1007/s11145-009-9206-6


Language proficiency before school entry has proven to be a powerful predictor of literacy development. This longitudinal study examined how simultaneous exposure to two richly inflected languages from birth contributes to the development of language-related literacy precursors at preschool age compared to peers exposed to one language. The community language turned out to be the stronger language of the bilinguals by 4 years of age and to a great extent age-appropriate compared to monolingual peers. The same initial exposure conditions resulted in three bilingual and two monolingual language proficiency profiles. For the bilinguals changes in the proportion of exposure to two home languages and frequency of language-specific social interactions explained proficiency in each language, whereas for the monolinguals exposure did not explain language proficiency. Our findings give support for the primary impact of exposure on the development of bilingualism and preliteracy skills.


Phonological awarenessLanguage and preliteracy skillsRussian-Finnish bilingualsSemantic skillMorphological skillPhonological working memory

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TampereTampereFinland