Faculty Articles


The bilingual advantage: A review of the developmental implications of bilingualism

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IAHRW International Journal of Social Sciences Review






Bilingualism is the ability to understand and produce more than one language. Three forms of bilingualism have been identified in children: compound bilingualism, coordinate bilingualism, and sub-coordinate bilingualism. The bilingual advantage is the notion that because bilinguals are constantly selecting one language and inhibiting the other(s) that they speak, they develop heightened executive functioning. The following manuscript reviews the literature on bilingualism and its linkages to language and executive functioning across the human lifespan. Overall, the literature seems to posit that bilingualism can lead to decreased performance on language tasks throughout life, although it does not impair language development as previously suspected. Moreover, the literature also suggests that bilinguals develop increased executive functioning abilities as compared to monolinguals. A review of the literature suggests that bilinguals' increased executive functioning begins in childhood and persists throughout adulthood. Further some research also suggests that bilingualism might protect older adults from some age-related cognitive declines. Overall, the literature suggests that there is a bilingual advantage, albeit limited to some specific circumstances.

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