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Language and Cognitive Aspects of Child Bilingualism

Research Observations and Classroom Applications

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Maria Andreou

This book investigates how bilingualism affects children’s language, cognitive and narrative abilities. The data sample derives from 209 8-12 years old bilingual children, in three different targeted languages (Greek-English, Greek-German, Greek-Albanian) along with 100 monolingual Greek children. The children completed baseline and experimental tasks measuring their vocabulary, grammar, cognitive skills, and narrative production abilities. The outcome of this work reveals that learning to read and write in two languages is beneficial for the development of language and cognitive skills. A strong case can be made to the growing bilingual communities in Germany and beyond to provide literacy training in both languages within mainstream schools, afternoon classes outside of the curriculum or in community schools.

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3 Participants’ Profile (Age, Vocabulary Capacity and Background Information)

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In the present chapter, an overview of the subjects and their background profile is provided. I also offer a detailed description of the questionnaires and of the tasks which are used in order to detect the profile of our bilinguals. Section 3.2 deals with the different educational settings of the bilinguals and the basis of their categorization into different groups. Section 3.3 describes the questionnaires and the way in which the participants fall into the specific groups, whereas in section 3.4 we refer to the nature of materials and tasks designed to investigate the bilinguals’ language abilities profiles.

The study is based on six groups of bilingual children, with Greek being one of the two languages, and one group of age-matched monolingual children of Greek serving as control group. All in all, the total number of participants is 309 children aged from 8 to 12 years old.6 More specifically, our data set consists of 209 Bilingual participants, in the three combinations of targeted languages, i.e., Greek-German, Greek-English and Greek-Albanian. All the bilingual participants were divided according to their area of residence (i.e., Greece, Germany, England or Albania), and as a result the following six groups of bilinguals were created: the Greek-German_ Gr had Greece as area of residence, N = 20 (10 boys, Mean = 10.83, S.D.= 1.16); the Greek-German_Ge group had Germany as area of residence, N = 59 (29 boys, Mean = 10.75, S.D.= 1.34); the Greek-English_ Gr group had Greece as area of residence, N = 40 (21 boys,...

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