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Title: Executive function development : a comparison of monolingual and bilingual children in Ireland
Author: Stephens, Claire
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2013
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In the last decade, bilingualism research has focused on areas of executive function (EF) as being enhanced through the bilingual and immersion education experiences. This thesis examined EF development in a group of 147 monolingual and bilingual children in Ireland using a longitudinal design over a three-year period. A battery of EF tasks and controls including non-verbal IQ and English receptive vocabulary were employed and the three testing phases were spaced an average of 1 year apart with a 96% retention rate of participants. Previous bilingual research often controls for socioeconomic status (SES) in their studies. This thesis decided to examine issues of (SES) by comparing low- and mid-SES monolingual and bilingual children across time. At Time 3 of testing a second cross-sectional study was carried out, comparing children from Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas of Ireland who were presumed to have higher levels of exposure to and experience with the second language (Irish) than the immersion bilingual children in the longitudinal study. Results indicated that EF advantages for bilingual children may emerge over time, particularly for the unified EF rather than the specific functions. Furthermore, mid-SES Gaeltacht children had the highest levels of performance on the most complex EF task (the Wisconsin Cart Sort Test) while the low- SES Gaeltacht children had the lowest levels of performance. These findings indicate that children's EF development can be enhanced through the bilingual and immersion education experience although factors such as SES and linguistic environments may be more influential on children's cognitive development than immersion education and bilingualism alone.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available