Language proficiency and the development of executive function in English-speaking chinese Singaporean children
Tan, Jolene Gek Hian
Date of Issue2016-05-11
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Language proficiency has been shown to be associated with the development of the Executive Function (EF) in young children. Past research has shown that larger language proficiency is related to better EF abilities. Bilinguals possess two language repertoires of varying degrees of proficiency. Compared to the subordinate language, the dominant language has been proposed to have a greater association with the EF due to frequent and quicker speed of activation. The current study examined this proposal in English-speaking Singaporean Chinese bilingual children (N = 65; M age = 62.18, SD = 4.08, Range: 57-70 months old), whose mother tongue was Mandarin, but were dominant in English. A receptive vocabulary measure (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Task) and two EF tasks (Flexible Item Selection Task & Day-Night Stroop Task) were conducted in both languages on two separate sessions, each session in one language. Results showed that children’s English proficiency were positively and significantly correlated with the EF measures of both English and Mandarin, while Mandarin proficiency was only correlated with Mandarin EF measures. It was also observed that the relationship between a bilingual’s dominant language and the EF was stronger than their mother tongue. The findings of the current study showed that bilingual’s dominant language has greater associations with the EF, thereby supporting the proposal that large language proficiency is related to better scores on EF measures. In addition, these findings highlight the importance of using pure samples in future studies on bilingualism.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University