Does Acoustic Variability Impact Language Development in Bilingual Infants?

Faculty Sponsor

Abbie Thompson


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-28-2022


Infants learn the language in their environment, but less is known about learning from multiple speakers. Multiple speakers can be both difficult (Jusczyk et al.,1992) and beneficial for infants (Rost et al., 2009). Multiple speakers, but not single speakers, help monolingual infants to generalize word-referent mappings to a new voice (Thompson, in prep). Yet, monolingual and bilingual babies may show different language learning abilities (Byers-Heinlein et al., 2009). The proposed study investigates if bilingual infants display similar advantages in learning from multiple speakers.

Participants will be 19-month-old bilingual infants (N=30 per condition). During training infants are taught 4 word-object pairings. Infants in multiple speaker condition will hear recordings from 8 different women labeling the object while the infants in the single speaker condition will hear recordings from a speaker. Infants must generalize the mappings as they will hear a new voice at test.

A t-test will be used to compare infants’ performance in the conditions and see if their performance differs from chance. It’s predicted that bilingual infants will learn in both speaker conditions due to being exposed to the various languages at home and thus are more likely to encounter speaker variability. The results have the ability to develop a deeper understanding of language development in bilingual infants and how their trajectories may be similar or different to monolingual infants.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

I am Gabriella Frangopoulos. I am a junior nursing major with a minor in psychology and chemistry. After graduation I want to go to medical school. I became interested in research in language development after taking lifespan psychology with Dr. Thompson.

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