Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 August 2014
Studying bilingualism is complicated. Baum and Titone's Keynote Article concludes with a discussion of three particularly thorny issues in bilingualism research: (a) bilinguals are not a homogeneous group, (b) bilingualism is not randomly assigned, and (c) the effects of bilingualism are often more complicated than simple advantages or disadvantages/delays. On this latter point, Baum and Titone consider how binary thinking about bilingualism as good or bad can limit the kinds of research questions that we ask. Here, I expand on this issue by showing how some apparent bilingual advantages and disadvantages can be illusory. I describe two examples of reasonable, justifiable, and prudent experimental designs that initially led to misleading conclusions about the effects of bilingualism on development. While both of these examples are drawn from research with bilingual infants, they nonetheless have implications for how we interpret the results of studies of bilingualism across the life span.
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