Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Child and Family Studies
bilingual education, critical period, language acquisition, meta-analysis, second language learning
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Past research on bilingual education indicates that the onset-age of second language learning is negatively associated with both second language proficiency and the cognitive benefits of being bilingual. However, there is inconsistency in the bilingual education field as to whether bilingual speakers benefit from enhanced intellectual processing abilities compared to monolingual speakers. The critical period hypothesis states that during childhood development a certain window of time exists in which second language acquisition skills are strongest. This hypothesis provides the theoretical foundation for my research study. In the current study, I synthesize evidence on the associations between onset-age of second language acquisition and the cognitive outcomes of being bilingual. There are two research objectives; the first is to identify whether bilingual speakers benefit from enhanced intellectual processing abilities compared to monolingual speakers. The second research objective is to identify if early second language acquisition leads to enhanced intellectual processing abilities compared to late second language acquisition. I searched electronic databases in order to identify studies that reported quantitative associations between second language acquisition and intellectual processing abilities. Using my inclusion and exclusion criteria, I identified a total of 18 articles (20 studies) that met the criteria. I conducted a meta-analysis to compare the intellectual processing abilities of monolinguals, early bilinguals, and late bilinguals. No difference was found between the monolinguals and the bilinguals regarding their intellectual processing abilities. No difference was found between early and late bilinguals regarding their intellectual processing abilities. I discuss the implications of the study for the field of bilingual education and second language learning.
Shafi, Sanum, "Does Age of Second-Language Acquisition Improve Intellectual Processing Abilities?" (2020). Theses - ALL. 460.