Effects of language proficiency on working memory and mathematical achievement in bilingual children
Pung, Bernadette Wantian
Date of Issue2017-04-26
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Bilinguals have to continually check and manage their attention to the appropriate language and this constant managing of attention to the target language influences their cognitive functions, especially their working memory. Not only that, bilinguals’ language and working memory capabilities can also affect their mathematical skills. As bilinguals can differ in the level of proficiencies in their languages, this study aims to investigate the relationships between bilinguals L1 and L2 proficiencies to working memory and mathematical achievement. In addition, as working memory plays a large role in mathematical learning, this relationship would be investigated as well. English-Mandarin bilinguals (N = 52; Mage = 69.62 months; SDage = ¬¬7.44) aged four to six were tested in terms of their language proficiencies in English and Mandarin, working memory capabilities and mathematical skills. After controlling for gender and age, results revealed that children with a higher L1 and higher L2 proficiency had better working memory and mathematical achievement scores. Higher working memory scores also resulted in better mathematical scores. Language proficiency scores predicted working memory and mathematical scores. Working memory scores independently predicted mathematical scores. Both language proficiencies play a crucial role in bilinguals’ working memory and mathematical development. Also, working memory predicted mathematical scores independently, highlighting the importance for early working memory development. Future studies can look at other aspects of the bilingual experience to get a more comprehensive view on the bilingual advantage.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University