Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

The current study focused on the mechanisms involved in syntactic awareness development in monolingual and bilingual (English/Spanish-speaking) nine-year-olds. Inclusion of child language brokers (those who translate and interpret for non-English speaking family members) diversified the definition of "bilingual." Previous research has shown bilingual advantages in areas of metalinguistic awareness and executive function (e.g., Bialystok, 2010; Davidson, Raschke, & Pervez, 2010), however, child language brokers have not been distinguished in these studies. These children, due to early language-switching and translation duties, may have differential development of areas of inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, areas suspected to aid in metalinguistic awareness development. The language brokers, at higher levels of vocabulary knowledge, were more efficient on the syntactic awareness task. No differences were found in inhibitory control or working memory, however, significant advantages were found for the brokers over both the non-brokers and the monolinguals on the test of cognitive flexibility. When examining the linkages between executive function performance and syntactic awareness, linkages were found only in the area of cognitive flexibility for the bilinguals, and this linkage was particularly strong for the language brokers. The consistent use and practice of the cognitive flexibility system may further transform and improve the efficiency of these control processes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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