EARLY LANGUAGE LEARNING IMPROVES COGNITIVE ABILITIES.

EARLY LANGUAGE LEARNING IMPROVES COGNITIVE ABILITIES

Foster, K. M., & Reeves, C. K. (1989).

Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) improves cognitive skills. FLES News, 2(3), 4.

This study looks at the effects of an elementary school foreign language program on basic skills by looking at the relationship between months of elementary foreign language instruction in French and scores on instruments designed to measure cognitive and metacognitive processes. The study included 67 sixth-grade students who were divided into four groups that differed by lengths of time in the foreign language program. There was a control group of 25 students who had no French instruction and three groups of students who had participated in the program for different lengths of time (6.5 months, 15.5 months, and 24.5 months). The students who did receive foreign language instruction had received 30 minutes of French instruction daily after 30 minutes of basal reading in English. The control group received an additional 30 minutes of reading instruction in place of foreign language instruction. The results of the analysis showed that the groups who received foreign language instruction scored significantly higher in three areas (evaluation on the Ross test, total score of all cognitive functions on Ross test, and total score on Butterfly and Moths test) than the control group. In particular, the students who had received foreign language instruction scored higher on tasks involving evaluation which is the highest cognitive skill according to Bloom’s taxonomy. The linear trend analysis showed that the students who had studied French the longest performed the best.

Landry, R. G. (1973). The enhancement of figural creativity through second language learning at the elementary school level. Foreign Language Annals, 7(1), 111-115. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

The main hypothesis of this study is that the experience of learning a second language at the elementary school level is positively correlated to divergent thinking in figural tasks. This study is concerned with flexibility in thinking through experience with a foreign language. Comparisons are made between second language learners and single language learners. The second language learners score significantly higher than do the monolingual students. Second language learning appears, therefore, not only to provide children with the ability to depart from the traditional approaches to a problem, but also to supply them with possible rich resources for new and different ideas. 

Bamford, K. W., & Mizokawa, D. T. (1991). Additive-bilingual (immersion) education: Cognitive and language development. Language Learning, 41(3), 413-429. from ERIC database.

Examination of a second grade additive-bilingual (Spanish-immersion) classroom, compared to a monolingual classroom for nonverbal problem-solving and native-language development, found significant differences in problem solving in favor of the bilingual class and no significant differences in native-language development.

Barik, H. C., & Swain, M. (1976). A longitudinal study of bilingual and cognitive development. International Journal of Psychology, 11(4), 251-263. from PsycINFO database.

Presents findings of a study of IQ data collected over a 5-yr period (kindergarten to Grade 4) on pupils in a French immersion program (anglophone pupils receiving all instruction in French except English language arts) and pupils in the regular English program. Although year-by-year results may fail to show IQ differences between the 2 groups, repeated measures analysis indicates that the immersion group had a higher IQ measure over the 5-yr period. Supportive of those studies is a further analysis on the data of immersion students classified as “high” vs “low” French achievers. High achievers obtained significantly higher IQ measures and subtest scores than low achievers, even when scores were adjusted for initial IQ and age differences. F

Samuels, D.  D., & Griffore, R. J. (1979). The Plattsburgh french language immersion program: Its influence on intelligence and self-esteem. Language Learning, 29(1), 45-52. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

This study examined the effects of a year’s attendance in a French Language Immersion Program (FLIP) on children’s verbal & performance sections of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) & self-esteem, measured by the Purdue Self Concept Scale (PSCS). Eighteen 6-year-olds attended the program, while 13 6-year-olds constituted a control group which attended a regular English program. Analyses of data showed that differences between the FLIP & English control groups at the end of the school year were not significant for Verbal IQ or PSCS. Significant differences were found between groups on overall Performance IQ, Picture Arrangement, & Object Assembly. The increments in Performance IQ in the FLIP group are consistent with previously reported data suggesting that bilinguals have greater cognitive flexibility than monolinguals.

 

 

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