Local and Global Inferences

In monolingual children, it has been found that local inferences are easier to make than global inferences, since they do not directly require the application of previous knowledge to be solved – all the information needed is already in the text, it just needs to be connected. Bilingual children need to solve the same problems as monolingual children when they try to understand a story. However if English is an additional language, bilingual children’s starting point will be different from that of children who speak English as their first and only language. Bilingual children may have had less contact with English than monolinguals of the same age, sometimes considerably less so if they are new to the country; they will probably know fewer words and may have less familiarity with some of the structures of the language.

Finding out more about how bilingual children develop an understanding of English over time, and what affects the process was the starting point of our project.