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date: 01 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Internationally adopted (IA) children begin acquiring one language from birth (L1), but typically discontinue it in favour of their adoption language (L2). Language attrition occurs quickly with IA children unable to speak/understand their L1 within months of adoption. However, as adults IA test participants show certain advantages in this language compared to monolingual speakers never exposed to it, suggesting that certain elements of the L1 may be retained. Neuroimaging studies have found that IA participants exhibit brain activation patterns reflecting the retention of L1 representations and their influence on L2 processing. This chapter reviews research on L1 attrition in IA children, discussing whether/how elements of the L1 may be retained. It discusses how L1 attrition versus retention might influence subsequent language processing in the L1 and L2. Implications of language attrition versus retention patterns observed in IA participants for neuroplasticity and language acquisition are also discussed beyond this specific group.

Keywords: Internationally adopted (IA) children, birth language, adoption language, neuroimaging studies, L1 attrition in IA children, L1 retention in IA children, neuroplasticity

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