Metalinguistic knowledge, verbal working memory and verbal fluency in monolingual and bilingual speakers


Worldwide there are currently more people speaking two or more languages than those speaking just one. Due to circumstances created by economic migrations and recent social changes, bilingualism has become a common skill, one that should be better understood. The purpose of this study was to further the understanding of language development in bilingual speakers by comparing their metalinguistic knowledge, verbal working memory and verbal fluency against that of monolingual speakers. Sixty-four children (ages 5-6) participated in the study. Based on their language skills, they were assigned to either the bilingual speakers group (N=32) or the monolingual speakers group (N=32). Each participant was tested individually.

Metalinguistic knowledge, verbal working memory and verbal fluency in monolingual and bilingual speakersAdd subheading - Ivana Filipcic

Metalinguistic knowledge was tested using derivation and inflectional morphology tasks. Verbal working memory testing comprised flow and capacity tasks, namely of the phonological loop and the central executive. The verbal fluency task was to enumerate as many animals and cartoons as possible. Bilingual speakers in the study did not achieve better scores in metalinguistic knowledge or in verbal fluency, relative to the monolingual speakers group. Of the verbal working memory tasks, the bilingual speakers group scored higher than the monolingual speakers group only on the capacity tasks of the central executive. On the remaining tasks, the difference in results between the two groups was deemed statistically insignificant.

Keywords: bilingualism, meta-language, verbal working memory, verbal fluency.

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Ivana FilipcicWritten by Ivana Filipčić

Study visitor at TermCoord. Ivana holds a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of Zagreb, Croatia. Working with children for three years she has been fascinated by the language acquisition, especially in bilinguals with different cultural backgrounds. Being highly motivated to learn more about the multilingual language and communication development she is now doing a Master Degree in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. Her professional interest professional interest lies in the bi/multilingualism, as well as communication and language development in children with language and/or social communication difficulties.


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