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Relations between vocabulary and executive functions in Spanish–English dual language learners

Research paper by VRINDA KALIA, M. PAULA DANERI, MAKEBA PARRAMORE WILBOURN

Indexed on: 21 Dec '18Published on: 01 Jan '19Published in: Bilingualism (Cambridge, England)



Abstract

The role of dual language exposure in children's cognitive development continues to be debated. The majority of the research with bilingual children in the US has been conducted with children becoming literate in only one of their languages. Dual language learners who are becoming literate in both their languages are acutely understudied. We compared dual language learners (n = 61) in a Spanish–English dual language immersion program to monolingual English speaking children (n = 55) who were in a traditional English only school. Children (kindergarten to 3rd grade) completed standardized vocabulary tasks and two measures of executive functions. Despite having significantly smaller English vocabularies, the dual language learners outperformed the monolingual children on the executive function measures. Implications for our understanding of the relations between oral language development and executive function in bilingual children are discussed.