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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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4 Cognition and Dominance: Educational Setting and Biliteracy Effects

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In the present Chapter we describe the materials and the tasks designed in order to investigate the cognitive profiles of the bilinguals (section 4.1). In 4.2 the results of the cognitive tasks are given when grouping bilinguals according to Balance Input resulting from the six different measurements of Balance presented in Chapter 3. In grouping our bilingual participants we ran preliminary regression analysis and we found that the most crucial variable for explaining the cognitive performance was Balance. Section 4.3 gives the results of Balanced bilinguals (with respect to their language vocabularies) in the three cognitive tasks and investigates if balance at a higher or at a lower level plays a role in distinguishing the cognitive results of bilinguals. In section 4.4 we deal with the variables that create a Balanced bilingual, whereas section 4.5 investigates the role of Bi-li and its possible effect in the cognitive tasks. Finally, in 4.6 we give a summary of the conclusions of the Chapter.

Recent studies have revealed that bilingualism confers cognitive advantages of executive functions such as working memory (Morales, Calvo and Bialystok 2013). With respect to the notion of balance in bilingualism it has been shown that it is reflected on a number of tasks that concern cognitive abilities (Iluz-Cohen and Armon-Lotem 2013). More specifically, it has been observed that the systematic use of both languages by bilingual children may affect their cognitive functions, leading to a bilingual advantage (Adesope, Lavin, Thompson and Ungerleider 2010; Bialystok, Barac, Blaye and...

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