Effect of degree of bilingualism on metalinguistic awareness in English-French bilingual childrenReport as inadecuate




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* Corresponding author 1 ICAR - Interactions, Corpus, Apprentissages, Représentations

Abstract : Numerous studies have demonstrated that bilingual children have a processing advantage on verbal and non-­‐verbal problem solving tasks requiring high levels of control of attention, a skill component enabling subjects to suppress distracting or misleading information while focusing their attention on some other element e.g. Ben-­‐ Zeev, 1977; Bialystok, 1986a and1986b; Ricciardelli, 1992; Bialystok and Majumder, 1998; Cromdal, 1999; Bialystok and Martin, 2004; Bialystok and Shapero, 2005; Bialystok and Martin-­‐Rhee, 2008.A study was conducted to investigate the effects of differing levels of bilingualism on metalinguistic awareness. The participants were 38 English-­‐French bilingual children aged six to eight, of middle to high socio-­‐economic status, attending an international school in France. Language proficiency was measured using the standardised English and French versions of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Dunn et al., 1987; Dunn et al., 1993. Metalinguistic awareness, considered here in terms of Bialystok’s analysis and control framework Bialystok and Ryan, 1985; Bialystok, 1986a and 2001 and Cummins’ 1976 threshold hypothesis, was assessed through seven metalinguistic tasks based on Ricciardelli 1993, which were given to the children in both their languages.The results were generally consistent with Bialystok’s and Cummins’ predictions. High level balanced bilinguals outperformed dominant bilinguals on tasks requiring a high degree of control of linguistic processing and on certain analysis tasks, but importantly in our study, only when the child’s best score, sometimes coming from the weaker language, was considered. The results also showed that although certain dominant bilinguals performed better on the metalinguistic tasks given in their stronger language, others did not. Furthermore, the results revealed that even children who were considered to be balanced bilinguals may perform quite differently on the two language versions of the same metalinguistic task.

Keywords : bilingual acquisition metalinguistic awareness language balance control of attention English French





Author: Cathy Cohen -

Source: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/



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