This study explores how language exposure may shape oral narrative skills in three first grade French-English emergent bilinguals attending an international programme at a state school in France. The students come from three different home language backgrounds (English dominant; French dominant; both French and English). Parent questionnaires provide information on current and cumulative exposure and home literacy practices. Spontaneous oral narratives are elicited in French and English. Microstructure, macrostructure, and narrative quality analyses show that while one language may appear to be dominant, notably for certain microstructure skills, performance in other areas may be superior in the other language.
The study highlights how different actors’ agency (children, parents, siblings, teachers) may contribute to language learning trajectories and outcomes, steering dual language acquisition. For teachers, the study reiterates the complexity of language learning and the need to diversify activities to ensure that students are processing and producing language appropriately.
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