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Bilingualism and Cognition

Why does some empirical evidence suggest that bilingualism can increase meta-cognitive skills and cognitive flexibility, and even perfect some perceptual tasks, whereas other studies suggest that bilingual individuals may suffer from language and intellectual deficits?

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Some studies point to advantages associated with early bilingualism. Bialystok (2001, as cited in Li Ping, 2003), argues that because children have to juggle between two or more languages, there is a direct benefit of this experience based on a high level of control over attention and inhibition. In other words, the ability to speak two or more languages provides opportunities for children to learn how to inhibit information that is irrelevant or misleading when encountering interference. It is further suggested that children who grow up being bilingual have an accelerated development of selective attention compared with monolingual children. Li Ping (2003) presents further evidence to suggest that early bilinguals have direct consequences on many cognitive operations, such as: (a) phonological awareness, (b) more accurate quantity judgments, (c) flexible classification of objects and (d) stronger problem-solving abilities.

Drawing on Bialystok's findings, Li Ping (2003) argues that while a bilingual child will seem to lag behind in vocabulary development compared with age-matched peers, there is strong evidence suggesting that being bilingual enhances attentional control, which in turn leads to other cognitive benefits. Further, Bialystok (2001, as cited in Li Ping, 2003) demonstrated that due to their daily ...

Solution Summary

This solution present studies that suggest bilingual individuals suffer from cognitive deficits and experience language difficulties.