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Metalinguistic aspects of bilingual processing

  • Ellen Bialystok (a1)

Abstract

This chapter examines differences in metalinguistic development between monolingual and bilingual children in terms of three subcategories: word awareness, syntactic awareness, and phonological awareness. In each case, some studies have reported advantages for bilingual children, but equally, other studies have found either no difference between the groups, or, in some cases, monolingual advantages. In the discussion of each of these areas, the kinds of tasks for which bilingual and monolingual children perform differently are identified. In none of these three subcategories of metalinguistic awareness do bilingual children exhibit a uniform and consistent advantage over monolinguals. An alternate conception of metalinguistic ability is proposed in which two cognitive processes, analysis and control, are directly responsible for task performance. These processes are involved in all metalinguistic tasks but to different degrees. Re-examining the results in this way reveals that bilingual advantages occur reliably on tasks that make high demands on control but are not evident in tasks that make high demands on analysis. The implications of this pattern for metalinguistic ability are considered.

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Metalinguistic aspects of bilingual processing

  • Ellen Bialystok (a1)

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