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The effect of language of instruction on reasoning in bilingual children

  • Marguerite E. Malakoff (a1)

The effect of language of instruction on verbal reasoning of balanced bilingual children was investigated. Subjects were 36 sixth-grade French-English bilinguals who were receiving primary instruction in either French or English. Eight types of verbal analogies were created by varying the language of the analogy stem (French or English), the language of the analogy solution (French or English), and level of difficulty (easy or hard). The primary analysis was conducted through ANOVA with program type as between-subjects variable and item types as repeated measures factors. The results showed a significant interaction between language of instruction and language of presentation. In addition, there were different language effects for the two groups. The introduction of the noninstructional language (French) had a significant effect on the mean response time of the English Language Program Group at both levels of difficulty. The French Language Program Group showed a more complex pattern of results: there was a statistically significant advantage for the All-English items as compared with the All-French items on the easy analogies but a trend towards poorer performance upon introduction of English on the hard analogies. These results are discussed in terms of the differences between the two groups of subjects and the effect of academic experience on language-related thought processes and fluency. The distinction between contextualized and decontextualized language is also discussed.

Corresponding author
Marguerite E. Malakoff, Yale University, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 11A Yale Station, New Haven, CT 06520-7447, U.S.A.
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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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