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Cognitive development of low- and typically- achieving monolingual and bilingual children

A wealth of research has been conducted with 'typical' bilingual populations which indicate advantages over monolinguals across a range of abilities including executive functioning and working memory. It remains to be seen, however, whether the bilingual advantage is also evident in low-achieving children. In an attempt to address' this issue, the current longitudinal study aimed to examine potential developmental differences in cognitive profiles of low- and typically-achieving monolingual and bilingual children. This study involved a total of 111 participants who were recruited from both Irish-immersion and English language schools in Northern Ireland. The sample consisted of 58 bilinguals and 53 monolinguals in two age groups. 20 bilinguals were identified as low-achievers and 38 as typical-achievers; 21 monolinguals were identified as low-achievers and 32 as typical-achievers. The performance of all participants was assessed on measures of short-term and working memory;' executive functioning, receptive vocabulary, literacy and non-verbal IQ. The study involved four testing phases, each separated by approximately six months. In relation to executive functioning, older bilingual children (including low-achievers) demonstrated an advantage in inhibition skills. This finding suggests that bilingualism may have the potential to mediate some of the disadvantages associated with low-achievement. The results also indicate that short-term and working memory and executive functioning follow similar developmental trajectories in monolingual and bilingual children. In particular, the results indicate that the developmental trajectories of low-achieving bilingual children were very similar to those of their monolingual counterparts. It is argued these findings have important theoretical and practical implications. In particular, it is argued that the results of the current research demonstrate that low-achieving children have the potential to succeed in immersion education, and that bilingualism does not have any detrimental effect on the cognitive development of these children.

Identiferoai:union.ndltd.org:bl.uk/oai:ethos.bl.uk:669650
Date January 2014
CreatorsBrennan-Wilson, Aoibheann
PublisherQueen's University Belfast
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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