Faculty Sponsor

Shannon Hilliker


Parental speech has some influences on children’s language development. The way parents speak with their children is often reflected in the children’s speech patterns. Prior research suggests that monolingual mother-child communication differs as a function of linguistic and cultural background. The present study examined communicative patterns of bilingual and monolingual mother-child dyads in Thailand and the United States to determine whether there are differences in conversational style and content between bilinguals and monolinguals who are native to different countries and cultures. Participants included four bilingual mother-preschooler dyads from Thailand, four bilingual mother-preschooler dyads from the US, and 21 English monolingual dyads from the US. Each dyad completed three tasks in English: prompted reminiscing, book reading, and toy play. Interactions were video-recorded, transcribed using Codes for the Analysis of Human Language (CHAT), and coded for language measures. Data analysis utilized maternal and child mean frequency of each language measure. Results revealed that English monolingual mothers provided more descriptions, posed more questions, used more emotion words, and discussed their thoughts and feelings more than both groups of bilingual mothers. Similarly, English monolingual children shared their thoughts and feelings more than the two groups of bilingual children in each task, whereas the bilingual groups did not differ in their use of other linguistic measures. We conclude that culture and language status can change how monolinguals and bilinguals communicate, even when speaking the same language.