Effect of Early Bilingualism on Metalinguistic Development and Language Processing: Evidence from Chinese-Speaking Bilingual Children

  • Li-Jen KuoEmail author
  • Tae-Jin Kim
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 8)


Psychologists have long been interested in the impact of early bilingualism on children’s cognitive development. However, despite vigorous investigation into the topic, research on the effect of bilingualism on metalinguistic awareness and language processing has remained largely unexplored, either producing mixed findings or revealing advantages that cannot be ascribed solely to bilingualism per se. Many Chinese-speaking children around the world speak a second language, usually one that is typologically distant from Chinese, which affords an opportunity for isolating extraneous factors and identifying effect of bilingualism per se and provides a fertile ground for studying theories of early bilingualism in a broader cross-linguistic context. The purpose of this chapter is two-fold. First, it provides a critical review of the conceptual and methodological challenges in conducting research on the metalinguistic development and language processing of bilingual children. Second, it reports two empirical studies with Chinese-speaking bilingual children that were designed to investigate structural sensitivity theory Kuo & Anderson (Scientific Studies of Reading, 14, 365–385, 2010), an augmented theoretical framework to examine bilingual cognitive advantage in the verbal domain.


Bilingualism Chinese Metalinguistic Language processing 



 This research was supported by a Summer Research and Artistry Grant and a College of Education Deans’ grant from Northern Illinois University awarded to Li-Jen Kuo.

We are grateful to Chih-Ping Lo, Elena Lyutykh and Fred Lu for their assistance with data collection. We also thank the students, teachers, and administrators who so graciously participated in or facilitated this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teaching, Learning & CultureTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational Psychology, Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language & LiteracyNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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