Bilingualism: The Beneficial and Contradictory Findings

Speaker:Muhammad Ahkam Arifin| Location:Room 17| Date:August 11, 2016| Time:11:15 - 11:45 am


Historically bilingual children were often associated with low intelligence, high mental confusion, and limited number of vocabularies in either of their languages. In their seminal work Peal and Lambert (1962), however, reported that bilingual children significantly outperformed monolingual children both on verbal and nonverbal intelligence tests. Currently studies have overwhelmingly shown the advantages of bilinguals over their monolingual counterparts. This paper will first review the benefits that bilinguals have when acquiring an additional language. Bilinguals as experienced language learners have potentially developed their learning strategies as a result of their previous learning. The advantage has also always been associated with explicit and implicit metalinguistic awareness. Secondly, the cognitive benefits will be explored, particularly the bilingual advantage in executive functioning (EF), which has been empirically linked with general intelligence. Interestingly, studies tend to report that learning languages may help aging people to better cope with brain damage (e.g., dementia), or simply bilingual elderly people get benefits with “cognitive reserve”. Nevertheless, there are also some studies that find no coherent evidence of bilingual advantage. This paper culminates with presenting some speculations why some studies report contradictory findings. One of them is related to the threshold theory proposed by Cummins (1991).


343-Muhammad-Ahkam-ArifinCurrently M Ahkam A is doing his master’s degree in MSc TESOL Programme, the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. He is expected to graduate in the next August within this year. Prior to his master`s study, he has been teaching English for about four years in his homeland (Indonesia).


Category: Day 1 | August 11, 2016, Presenter Schedule