Skip to main content

Bilingualism and cognitive development in relation to threshold theory

Abstract

A study was conducted to examine the relationship between bilingualism and cognitive development, as predicted by threshold theory. This theory maintains that there may be levels of linguistic proficiency which bilingual children must attain in order to avoid cognitive deficits and to allow the cognitive benefits. On the whole, the results were consistent with the theory, in that an overall bilingual superiority was found only for those children who had attained a high degree of bilingualism. An overall bilingual superiority was not found for those children who had attained lower degrees of bilingualism. These results are discussed further in relation to Bialystok's model.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Bain, B. (1975). Toward an integration of Piaget and Vygotsky: Bilingual considerations.Linguistics, 160, 5–19.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ben-Zeev, S. (1977). The influence of bilingualism on cognitive strategy and cognitive development.Child Development, 48, 1009–1018.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bialystok, E. (1988a). Levels of bilingualism and levels of linguistic awareness.Developmental Psychology, 24, 560–567.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bialystok, E. (1988b). Aspects of linguistic awareness and reading comprehension.Applied Psycholinguistics 9, 123–139.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bialystok, E., & Ryan, E. B. (1985). Toward a definition of metalinguistic skill.Merrill-Palmer quarterly, 31, 229–251.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Birdsong, D. (1989).Metalinguistic awareness and interlingual competence. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bowey, J. A., Tunmer, W. E., & Pratt, C. (1984). Development of children's understanding of the metalinguistic termword.Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 500–512.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Brown, R. L., Fournier, J. F., & Moyer, R. H. (1977). A cross cultural study of Piagetian concrete reasoning and science concepts among rural 5th grade Mexican and Anglo-American students.Journal of Research in Sciences Teaching, 14, 329–334.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Cummins, J. (1976). The influence of bilingualism on cognitive growth: A synthesis of research findings and explanatory hypotheses.Working Papers on Bilingualism, 9, 1–43.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Cummins, J. (1978). Bilingualism and the development of metalinguistic awareness.Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 9, 131–149.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Darcy, N. T. (1963). Bilingualism and the measurement of intelligence: A review of a decade of research.The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 103, 259–282.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Duncan, S. E., & De Avila, E. A. (1979). Bilingualism and cognition: Some recent findings.Journal of the National Association for Bilingual Education, 4, 15–50.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Dunn, L. M., & Dunn, L. M. (1981).Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised: Manual for Forms L and M. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Eckstein, A. (1986). Effect of the bilingual program on English language and cognitive development. In M. Clyne (Ed.),An early start: Second language at primary school (pp. 82–98). Melbourne: River Seine Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Elliot, C. D. (1983).British Ability Scales: Manual 1, introductory handbook (rev. ed.). Windsor: NFER-Nelson.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Fang, F. (1985). An experiment on the use of classifiers by 4- to 6-year olds.Acta Psychologica Sinica, 17, 384–392. (FromPsychological Abstracts 198774, Abstract No. 727)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Genesse, F., Tucker, G. R., & Lambert, W. E. (1975). Communication skills of bilingual children.Child Development, 46, 1010–1014.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Hakuta, K., Ferdman, B. M., & Diaz, R. M. (1987). Bilingualism and cognitive development: Three perspectives. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.),Advances in applied psycholinguistics: Reading, writing and language learning (Vol. 2, pp. 284–319). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kessler, C., & Quinn, M. E. (1987). Language minority children's linguistics and cognitive creativity.Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 8 173–186.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Kucera, H., & Francis, W. W. (1967).Computational analysis of present-day American English. Providence, RI: Brown University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Liedke, W. W., & Nelson, L. D. (1968). Concept formation and bilingualism.The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 14, 225–232.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Mohanty, A. K., & Babu, N. (1983). Bilingualism and metalinguistic ability among Kond tribals in Orissa, India.The Journal of Social Psychology, 121 15–22.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Papandropoulou, I., & Sinclair, H. (1974). What is a word?: Experimental study of children's ideas on grammar.Human Development, 17, 241–258.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Peal, E., & Lambert W. E. (1962). The relation of bilingualism to intelligence.Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 76 1–23.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Powers, S., & Lopez, R. (1985). Perceptual, motor, and verbal skills of monolingual and bilingual Hispanic children: A discrimination analysis.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 60, 1003–1109.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Pratt, C., Tunmer, W. E., & Bowey, J. A. (1984). Children's capacity to correct grammatical violations in sentences.Journal of Child Language, 11, 129–141.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ricciardelli, L. A. (1992).Childhood bilingualism, metalinguistic awareness and creativity. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis University of Adelaide.

  28. Ricciardelli, L. A. (1992).Bilingualism and cognitive development: A review of past and recent findings. Manuscript submitted for publication.

  29. Ricciardelli, L. A., Rump, E. E., & Proske, I. (1989). Metalinguistic awareness as a unitary construct, and its relation to general intellectual development.Rassegna Italiana di Linguistica Applicata, 21 19–40.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Saer, D. J. (1923). The effect of bilingualism on intelligence.The British Journal of Psychology, 14, 25–38.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Scotti, D. (1973).Prime parole [First words]. Brescia: Scuola.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Sperling, M. T. (1990). Social-cognitive development of bilingual and monolingual children.Dissertation Abstracts International, 50, 5349B.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Torrance, E. P. (1981).Thinking Creatively in Action Movement: Administration, scoring and norms manual. Bensenville, IL.: Scholastic Testing Service.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Watson, A. (1979).Units of Print Test. Paddington., Australia: Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Wechsler, D. (1967).Manual for the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence. New York: The Psychological Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Whitaker, J. H., Rueda, R. S., & Prieto, A. G. (1985). Cognitive performance as a function of bilingualism in students with mental retardation.Mental Retardation, 6, 302–307.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lina A. Ricciardelli.

Additional information

The author is indebted to G. Tyson for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ricciardelli, L.A. Bilingualism and cognitive development in relation to threshold theory. J Psycholinguist Res 21, 301–316 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01067515

Download citation

Keywords

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Lower Degree
  • Cognitive Deficit
  • Cognitive Development
  • Bilingual Child