Effect of Early Bilingualism on Metalinguistic Development and Language Processing: Evidence from Chinese-Speaking Bilingual Children
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.
KeywordsBilingualism 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.
- Bialystok, E., McBride-Chang, C., & Luk, G. (2005). Bilingualism, language proficiency, and learning to read in two writing systems. Journal of Educational Research, 97, 580–590.Google Scholar
- Bloomfield, L. (1933). Language. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
- Chambers, K. E., Onishi, K. H., & Fisher, C. (2002). Generalizing phonotactic regularities from brief auditory experience. Paper presented at the Eighth Conference on Laboratory Phonology, New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
- Chinese Proficiency Test. (2010). HSK Level 6. Retrieved March 29, 2010, from http://lingomi.com/blog/hsk-lists-2010/?utm_source=en.wikipedia.org&utm_medium=referral
- Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, H., & Halle, M. (1968). The sound pattern of English. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
- Cromdal, J. (1999). Childhood bilingualism and metalinguistic skills: Analysis and control in young Swedish-English bilinguals. Applied Psycholinguistics, 20, 1–20.Google Scholar
- Duanmu, S. (2003). The phonology of standard Chinese. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hakuta, K., & Diaz, R. M. (1985). The relationship between degree of bilingualism and cognitive ability: A critical discussion and some new longitudinal data. In K. E. Nelson (Ed.), Children’s language (pp. 319–344). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Harris, Z. S. (1951). Methods in structural linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Kuo, L. J., & Anderson, R. C. (2008). Conceptual and methodological issues in comparing metalinguistic awareness across languages. In K. Koda & A. Zehler (Eds.), Learning to read across languages (pp. 39–46). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Kuo, L.-J., & Anderson, R. C. (2012). Effects of early bilingualism on learning phonological regularities in a new language. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111, 455–467.Google Scholar
- Kuo, L.-J., Uchikoshi, Y., Kim, T.-J., Li, Y., & Kowalczyk, E. (2011, April). Reconceptualizing bilingual effect on the development of phonological awareness: A study with children in general education and Japanese-English immersion programs, American Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Meeting, Chicago.Google Scholar
- Oller, D. K., & Eilers, R. (2002). Language and literacy in bilingual children. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
- Rescorla, R. A. (1966). Predictability and number of pairings in Pavlovian fear conditioning. Psychonomic Science, 4, 383–384.Google Scholar