Language Switching May Give Bilingual Children Problem-Solving Boost Researchers may have found another benefit of bilingualism in children: strengthened problem-solving skills. And the more that dual-language toddlers switch between languages, the stronger those particular mental skills are compared with monolingual toddlers, according to a study from Concordia University in Montreal and published in the Journal of Experimental Child ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   June 01, 2016
Language Switching May Give Bilingual Children Problem-Solving Boost
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Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   June 01, 2016
Language Switching May Give Bilingual Children Problem-Solving Boost
The ASHA Leader, June 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.21062016.15
The ASHA Leader, June 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.21062016.15
And the more that dual-language toddlers switch between languages, the stronger those particular mental skills are compared with monolingual toddlers, according to a study from Concordia University in Montreal and published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.
“The superior performance on these conflict tasks appears to be due to bilinguals’ strengthened cognitive flexibility and selective attention abilities as they have increased experience in switching across languages in expressive vocabulary,” says senior author Diane Poulin-Dubois, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Psychology.
The longitudinal study followed 39 bilingual and 43 monolingual children as they learned language, with assessments at 24 months and 31 months.

“The superior performance on these conflict tasks appears to be due to bilinguals’ strengthened cognitive flexibility and selective attention abilities.”

In addition to measuring their vocabularies at both assessment points, researchers also tested the participants on cognitive flexibility and memory skills during the second assessment with two activities that measured conflict inhibition (the ability to override established rules).
The two groups showed no difference in vocabulary performance, but the bilingual toddlers did significantly better on the two conflict-inhibition tasks: being told to place big blocks into a big bucket and small blocks into a small bucket and then vice versa; and naming and pointing to images of certain fruit, even when some smaller fruit pictures were embedded in larger fruit pictures.
The bilingual toddlers who performed the best had mastered the most word pairs in each language—for example, “dog” and “chien.”
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June 2016
Volume 21, Issue 6