How bilingual children represent procedural versus narrative text is important for both pedagogical and theoretical reasons. To examine this issue, bilingual children and children learning English as a Second Language (ESL) read Hebrew sentences comprising either a procedural (i.e., how to) or a narrative text (i.e., description of doing) and reading times were measured. Half the children were primed with the same text, in English, in either the same genre or the opposite genre. Text sentences were then randomly sequenced and sentence sequencing mistakes and correct sentence sequencing times were assessed. Irrespective of genre, primed children read the Hebrew test text more quickly, and they read it as quickly as the English prime text. The priming effect was only evident on the last five sentences of each task. Primed children made fewer sentence sequencing mistakes than unprimed children, except when they were primed and tested with procedural text. With text reading times covaried, time for correct sequencing of the sentences showed only a main effect for genre. These data indicate that procedural genre material is harder to process than narrative genre material for bilingual children but that they are not aware of this greater difficulty. The data have important implications for our understanding of the way bilinguals construct mental models.
- narrative text
- procedural text