31 SES 02, Monolingual Habitus / Multilingual Realities. Research for the Mobilisation of Multilingualism in Education: from Family to Classroom Practices (I/II)
When compared to monolinguals, multiple language speakers have been found to display advantages across several domains. Some of these include greater cognitive flexibility and enhanced problem solving skills (Ricciardelli 1992; 1993), enhanced metalinguistic and metacognitive awareness (Campbell & Sais 1995; Galambos and Goldin-Meadow 1990 ; Le Pichon Vorstman et al. 2009) and a good predisposition for abstract and symbolic reasoning (Adesope et al. 2010; Guzmán-Vélez & Tranel 2015). These advantages have been repeatedly linked to language learning, and it is now widely acknowledged that speakers of multiple languages learn languages faster and more effectively than monolingual speakers with or without a second language learnt in a formal educational context. This raises the question of whether the identified advantages are limited to language learning, or if they can be expected to emerge when learning other subjects such as mathematics. This is the core question our study has addressed. French L1 students with two additional non-native languages at low to intermediate proficiency level (Group 1; n=402) were compared with French students who had knowledge of four or more languages (Group 2; n=193). The first group represents the typical French student with knowledge of foreign languages studied in a formal education context, while the second group includes all those students who speak different languages in the home and are mostly of immigrant origin. Due to this difference, socioeconomic status was controlled. All students were given a past Pisa test for mathematics (Pisa 2012) in French, and some extracts from the A2 and B1 Cambridge tests for English reading. Results at first show that Group 1 performs significantly better than Group 2 in both mathematics and English. Additional analyses that control for SES then show differences in performance in mathematics but not in English. This suggests that an increase in number of languages leads to improved performance in language learning while the effect is not so clear-cut in mathematical learning. More broadly, the study highlights the connection between individual multilingualism, language and mathematical learning, and shows the extent to which multilingualism can benefit both at the same time.
Adesope, O. O., Lavin, T., Thompson, T., & Ungerleider, C. (2010). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the cognitive correlates of bilingualism. Review of Educational Research, 80, 207– 245. Campbell, R., & Sais, E. (1995). Accelerated metalinguistic (phonological) awareness in bilingual children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13(1), 61-68. Galambos, J.S. & Goldin-Meadow, S. (1990). The effects of learning two languages on levels of metalinguistic awareness. Cognition, 34, 1-56. Guzmán-Vélez, E., & Tranel, D. (2015). Does bilingualism contribute to cognitive reserve? Cognitive and neural perspectives. Neuropsychology, 29(1), 139-150. Le Pichon Vorstman, E., De Swart, H., Ceginskas, V., & Van Den Bergh, H. (2009). Language learning experience in school context and metacognitive awareness of multilingual children. International Journal of Multilingualism, 6(3), 258-280. Ricciardelli, L. A. (1992). Creativity and bilingualism. Journal of Creative Behavior, 26, 242-254. Ricciardelli, L. A. (1993). An investigation of the cognitive development of Italian- English bilinguals and Italian monolinguals from Rome. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 14, 345-346.
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