A developmental approach to bilingual research: The effects of multi-language experience from early infancy to old age

Filippi, Roberto, D'Souza, Dean and Bright, Peter (2019) A developmental approach to bilingual research: The effects of multi-language experience from early infancy to old age. International Journal of Bilingualism, 23 (5). pp. 1195-1207. ISSN 1756-6878

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006917749061


Aims and Objectives: In this commentary article we consider the benefits of adopting a neuroconstructivist approach (Filippi & Karmiloff-Smith, 2013) in the study of bilingualism in order to promote empirical and theoretical progress on the fiercely debated issue of whether bilingualism confers genuine cognitive advantages. Significance/Implications: Although there is a general consensus that exposure to multilingual environments does not impair cognitive development, there are still doubts on the possible beneficial advantages of bilingualism. Critics argue that the evidence for this advantage might have been confounded by unsound or questionable methodological practices. Some investigators have abandoned research in this area, indicating either that there is no bilingual advantage or that it is impossible to capture and therefore rule out alternative explanations for group differences. Rather than dismissing this important theme in the literature, we advocate a more systematic approach in which the effects of multi-linguistic experience are assessed and interpreted across well-defined stages of cognitive development. Conclusions: We encourage a broad, developmentally informed approach to plotting the trajectory of interactions between multi-language learning and cognitive development, using a convergence of neuroimaging and behavioral methods, across the whole lifespan. We believe that, through studying infants, children, young adults, adults and the elderly within a coherent and systematic developmental framework, a more accurate and valid account of potential cognitive and neural changes associated with multi-language learning will emerge.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: bilingualism, neuroconstructivism, executive function, cognitive development, bilingual advantage
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Professor Peter Bright
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2017 16:50
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2022 11:42
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/702457

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