Is being bilingual/multilingual an advantage for cognitive development? The answer is not straightforward. You’ve likely heard about the bilingual advantage, this idea that people who have two or more languages develop cognitive advantages, particularly within the realm of executive function which is responsible for things like attention and task-switching. Research to date has yielded conflicting findings and, according to some researchers, the debate over whether there’s a bilingual advantage or not has reached a stalemate.
In this episode, we talked to Dr. Anthony Dick, an associate professor of developmental science and cognitive neuroscience at Florida International University. He published a study that found no evidence of advantages in executive function in 9- and 10-year-old bilingual children.
We discuss the nuances that exist between cognitive processes and language experience, and how that has an impact on research findings. Dr. Dick also walks us through his study and talks about the state of the research into the cognitive advantages of bilingualism.
- Research rules out mental flexibility, attention as advantages for some bilingual children, FIU News, May 20, 2019
- The Bilingual Advantage: Three Years Later, Psychology Today, June 11, 2019
- The Advantages of Bilingualism Debate, Annual Review of Linguistics, January 2019
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