Published on 01/03/13 at 01:02:52 GMT by Redaksjonen
A new study from the University of Granada in Spain and the University of York in Toronto, Canada, shows that bilingual children have a better working memory than monolingual children. Download the research article here on morsmal.org.
Working memory is the ability to hold, process, and update information over short periods of time. The working memory plays a major role in the execution of a wide range of activities, such as mental calculation and reading comprehension.
Bilingual children develop better working memories than those who only know one language. This is according to new research from the University of Granada (Spain) and the University of York (Canada).
Working memory is of particular importance because it relates to the execution of numerous activities including mental calculation and reading comprehension.
The research which was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, included a sample of bilingual children aged five to seven and discovered the more difficult the working memory tasks set, the better the bilingual kids performed.
The researchers conducted two studies comparing the performance of monolingual and bilingual children on tasks requiring different levels of working memory:
Photo: University of Granada
In the first study, 56 5-year-olds performed a task that manipulated working memory demands by comparing conditions based on two rules and four rules and manipulated conflict resolution demands by comparing conditions that included conflict with those that did not. Bilingual children responded faster than monolinguals on all conditions and bilinguals were more accurate than monolinguals in responding to incongruent trials, confirming an advantage in aspects of executive functioning.
In the second study, 125 children 5- or 7-year-olds performed a task that manipulated other executive function components through simultaneous or sequential presentation of items. Bilinguals outperformed monolinguals overall, but again there were larger language group effects in conditions that included more demanding executive function requirements.
The researchers concluded that the studies show an advantage for bilingual children in working memory that is especially evident when the task contains additional executive function demands.
- Bilingualism does not only improve the working memory in an isolated way, but they affect the global development of executive functions, especially when they have to interact with each other, said Julia Morales Castillo of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Granada.
- We have known for some time that the challenge of learning to speak more than one language confers positive advantages in cognitive development. This study from a team that included Canadian as well as Spanish researchers helps to clarify how that might occur - through a more efficient integration of all the skills involved in the executive control of our thinking processes, including working memory, said Psychologist Dr. Tony Cline of University College London.
Contact information For more information contact M. Julia Morales Castillo. Department of Experimental Psychology. University of Granada, Spain. Phone number: +34 958 24 06 67 E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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