Proverb comprehension among bilingual preadolescents and adolescents
De los Santos, Isela
The purpose of this study was to investigate comprehension of proverbs in bilingual preadolescents and adolescents. Specifically, does knowledge of two languages affect comprehension of proverbs? Phase 1 of this study involved forty adults between the ages of twenty and fifty. Twenty monolingual subjects rated the familiarity of fifty English proverbs. Twenty bilingual subjects rated the familiarity of fifty Spanish proverbs and fifty English proverbs. Familiarity ratings assigned by participants were averaged to obtain a mean familiarity rating for each proverb. Out of the fifty proverbs in each language, twenty-four proverbs from each language set were selected for use in Phase 2 based on the similarity of their familiarity ratings. The average familiarity ratings for English proverbs and Spanish proverbs utilized in Phase 2 were 1.64 and 1.64, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference [t (jg) = 0.643, p < 0.05] between the average familiarity ratings for English and Spanish proverbs utilized in Phase 2. Phase 2 also consisted of two subject groups. Group 1 consisted of monolingual preadolescents and adolescents who understood English, but not Spanish. Group 2 consisted of bilingual preadolescents and adolescents who understood English and Spanish. All subjects ranged in age from 11 to 15 years. Subjects provided case history information by completing a "Potential Subject Form: Phase Two." In order to qualify for participation, monolingual subjects passed a language screening administered in English and bilingual subjects passed language screenings administered in Spanish and English. Subjects also passed a hearing screening. Monolingual subjects listened to twenty-four short stories (i.e.. six to ten sentences in length) presented in English via tape recorder. Bilingual subjects listened to twenty-four short stories presented in Spanish and twent>-four short stories presented in English via tape recorder. Subjects read along silently with a printed copy of stimuli. At the end of each story, a proverb was presented. Subjects listened to four choices describing the proverb and selected the best response (i.e., number one, two, three, or four). Subjects recorded their response on the "Response Record Form." Results indicated that no significant difference [t (ig) = 0.643, p > 0.05] existed between comprehension of English proverbs by monolingual and bilingual subjects. Results also indicated that no significant difference [t (9) = 1.138, p > 0.05] existed between comprehension of English and Spanish proverbs by bilingual subjects. There was a moderate positive correlation between age and comprehension [r = 0.6, p < 0.05]. Additionally, results revealed that females (n = 13) performed better on the comprehension task than did males (n = 7). Results of this study established a foundation for a criterion-referenced measure that may be utilized with bilingual preadolescents and adolescents who exhibit language deficits, especially with higher level language skills.