The Direct and Indirect Relations Between Self-Regulation and Language Development Among Monolinguals and Dual Language Learners

  • Emily HannoEmail author
  • Sarah Surrain


In this review, we expand the conversation on the relations between self-regulation and language development in early childhood to include the growing population of dual language learners (DLLs). In the first sections, we highlight similarities in the timing and mechanisms of self-regulation and language development, respectively, and then summarize theoretical and empirical literature on the domains’ joint development. We ground this review in a conceptual model of the direct and indirect relations between skills in the two domains. In terms of direct relations, language facilitates mental organization and representation of self-regulation, whereas self-regulation allows children to capitalize on language-learning opportunities. Indirectly, self-regulation and language are related through shared ecological contexts of development. Throughout, we evaluate the applicability of our conceptual model among DLLs in light of evidence that: (1) language background is associated with unique contextual realities with implications for development in both domains, and (2) contemporary methodological approaches often fail to accurately capture DLLs’ skills in either domain. We present recommendations for future research on the relation between self-regulation and language that take into account these distinct considerations for DLLs.


Self-regulation Language Cross-domain development Dual language learners 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Emily Hanno and Sarah Surrain declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA

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