The effect of language on Chinese and American 2- and 3-year olds' small number identification

Xia Li, Ye Sun, Arthur J. Baroody, David Purpura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent research has found that linguistic cues may affect children's number word acquisition. Two studies were undertaken to evaluate the use of singular/plural markings and small number words in Chinese and English and its effect on children's number concepts. The first study utilized the CHILDES data and investigated how singular/plural markings and number words of "one," "two," and "three" are used in Chinese and compared it with that of English. The second study entailed testing twenty-four 2.4- to 3.3-year-old Chineseand English-speaking children on number identification tasks. Results show that the English-speaking children performed significantly better than Chinese-speaking children in identifying "two," "three," and "four" as referents for collections of multiple items but not in identifying those number words as referents for specific pluralities. Additionally, the results show that English-speaking children were more inclined to count when quantifying small number sets than Chinese-speaking children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1525-1542
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychology of Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Chinese
  • Linguistice cues
  • Numberrecognition
  • Numberwords
  • Singular/plural markings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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