Bilingual children’s visual attention while reading digital picture books and story retelling
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionSun, H,. Roberts, A.C., Bus, A. (2021) Bilingual children’s visual attention while reading digital picture books and story retelling. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 215, 105327 10.1016/j.jecp.2021.105327
This study examined Mandarin–English bilingual children’s visual attention over repetitive readings of Mandarin enhanced digital books and static books as well as the effects visual attention has on story retelling. We assigned 89 4- and 5-year-old preschoolers in Singapore to one of three reading conditions: (a) digital books with visual and auditory enhancements, (b) digital books with only auditory enhancements, and (c) static digital books with neither visual nor auditory enhancements. We presented three stories to the children in four sessions over 2 weeks, traced their visual attention with an eye tracker, and examined their story retelling after the first and fourth readings. The results demonstrated that the digital books with visual and auditory enhancements maintained greater visual attention from children compared with that from children in the other two conditions across the four repetitive readings. Moreover, children’s bilingual language proficiency significantly modulates the conditional effects of attention. Children with higher bilingual proficiency in the visual and auditory enhancements condition outperformed their peers in the other two conditions in terms of visual attention across most readings. However, for the children with lower bilingual proficiency, the digital books with auditory and visual enhancements only outperformed the static condition but not the auditory enhanced condition. Children with lower language proficiency maintained their attention at a relatively high level across the repetitive readings in the enhanced digital book conditions but demonstrated significantly decreased visual attention in the static digital book condition. Because children with better visual attention and higher bilingual proficiency retold the stories significantly better, the results indicate that influencing visual attention helps to improve story comprehension.