Benefits of a Bilingual Brain.

Learning World Languages to Prepare for College and Careers

Why Study a Foreign Language?
Why Study Spanish?
Why Study Chinese?
The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals
Being Bilingual Changes the Architecture of Your Brain

How does language learning support academic achievement?


Armstrong, P. W., & Rogers, J. D. (1997). Basic skills revisited: The effects of foreign language instruction on reading, math, and language arts. Learning Languages, 2(3), 20-31.

Third-grade students from were randomly assigned to receive 30-minute Spanish lessons three times a week for one semester.    These lessons focused on oral-aural skills and were conducted entirely in Spanish.  Students in the Spanish classes scored significantly higher than the group that did not receive Spanish instruction in math and language on the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT).   There was no significant difference in reading scores.

Cade, J. M. (1997). The foreign language immersion program in the  Kansas City, Missouri  Public Schools, 1986-1996 [Abstract]. Dissertation Abstracts International -A 58(10), 3838.

This study describes the planning, development, implementation, and assessment of the foreign language magnet plan in schools in the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District. The program outcomes appeared to support the contentions found in research that, over time, second language learners (1) have improved test scores; (2) are able to think divergently; (3) achieve in their first language; and (4) attract and maintain parent involvement.

Carr, C.G. (1994). The effect of middle school foreign language study on verbal achievement as measured by three subtests of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills [Abstract]. Dissertation Abstracts International -A 55(07), 1856.

This study looked at the effects of foreign language study on the verbal achievement of middle school students as measured by three subtests of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills.   The students were compared with students who did not have language study but were enrolled in the Challenge Reading program.    The study concluded that performance in reading comprehension, language mechanics, and language expression was significantly higher in favor of the experimental group (foreign language study) when such variables as academic aptitude and level of performance in the treatment were statistically controlled.

Johnson, C. E., Flores, J. S., & Eillson, F. P. (1963). The effect of foreign language instruction on basic learning in elementary schools: A second report. The Modern Language Journal, 47(1), 8-11.

This study looked at the effects of 20 minutes of daily Spanish instruction on academic achievement.   Students were given the Iowa Every-Pupil Test of Basic Skills in September of students’ fourth and fifth grade years.  Students receiving Spanish instruction scored higher than the control group in language skills, work study skills, and arithmetic, but the difference was not statistically significant.   Likewise, the control group scored higher than the experimental group in reading vocabulary and reading comprehension, but differences were not significant.  The author concludes that foreign language instruction does not hinder academic achievement.

Johnson, C. E., Ellison, F. P., & Flores, J. S. (1961). The effect of foreign language instruction on basic learning in elementary schools. The Modern Language Journal, 45(5), 200-202. 

In this pilot study, two third-grade classrooms were used to compare the effects of foreign language instruction on basic skills. One classroom received Spanish instruction for 25 minutes per day for the spring semester, while the other class followed the regular curriculum with no foreign language instruction. Analysis of the results showed the groups receiving language instruction had higher mean scores than the control group in arithmetic and English grammar, although their scores were slightly lower than the control group in English punctuation, comprehension, and vocabulary.

Haak, L. A., & Leino, W. B. (1963). The teaching of Spanish in the elementary schools and the effects on achievement in other selected subject areas., 100. from ERIC database.

Classes from six schools were used with the experimental groups devoting 15 minutes per day to Spanish instruction over a three-year period.   The Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and the Stanford Social Studies test served as measurements.  The conclusions drawn were (1) deletion of time from arithmetic, language and social studies had no detrimental effect upon measured achievement in subject areas from which the time was taken; (2) measured intelligence is positively correlated with measured achievement in the learning of Spanish.

Lopato, E. W. (1963). FLES and academic achievement. The French Review, 36(5), 499-507.

114 third-grade students from four classrooms participated in this study.   Students were “equated” for grade placement, age, intelligence, and socio-economic status, and teachers were “equated” for fluency in French.  These experimental groups received daily 15-minute French lessons from their classroom teachers, who were both described as “fluent” in French. The French instruction was aural-oral and did not include reading or writing in the target language. The Stanford Achievement Test was given as a pre-test at the beginning of the school year, and an alternate form of the test was given at the end of the school year. At one of the school sites, the experimental group scored significantly higher than the control group on the average arithmetic scores, but not on average reading, spelling, or language.  At the other school site, students receiving foreign language instruction scored significantly higher on the average arithmetic and spelling sections, but not the average reading or language sections of the test. 

Rafferty, E. A. (1986). Second language study and basic skills in Louisiana. U.S.; Louisiana, from ERIC database.

A statewide study in Louisiana revealed that third, fourth, and fifth graders who participated in 30-minute elementary school foreign language programs in the public schools showed significantly higher scores on the 1985 Basic Skills Language Arts Test than did a similar group that did not study a foreign language. Further, by fifth grade, the math scores of language students were also higher than those of students not studying a foreign language. Both groups were matched for race, sex, and grade level, and the academic levels of students in both groups were estimated by their previous Basic Skills Test results and statistically equated. The results of the analysis suggest that foreign language study in the lower grades helps students acquire English language arts skills and, by extension, math skills. 

Sheridan, R. (1976). Augmenting reading skills through language learning transfer. FLES Latin program evaluation reports, 1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76. From ERID database.

A project was begun in 1973 in the Indianapolis  Public School system based on the hypothesis that English language skills and the control of syntactic structures can be measurably improved through participation in a specially designed Latin FLES program stressing the importance of Latin root words. Goals of the project were to assess whether or not the study of Latin and classical civilization will: (1) expand the verbal functioning of sixth grade children in English, and (2) broaden their cultural horizons and stimulate an interest in humanities. The project was directed towards approximately 400 sixth graders in six schools, all studying Latin and classical civilization in a program coordinated with their regular classes. They received a thirty-minute lesson each day 5 days per week taught by a Latin specialist. The present program evaluation report shows overall gains in word knowledge, reading, language, spelling, math computation, math concepts, math problem solving, and social studies after the first year, and gains in spelling, reading, and math concepts following the second and third years of the program, as seen from results on subtests of the Metropolitan Achievement Test.

Thomas, W. P., Collier, V. P., & Abbott, M. (1993). Academic achievement through Japanese, Spanish, or French: The first two years of partial immersion. Modern Language Journal, 77(2), 170-179. from PsycINFO database.

Compared the academic performance of 719 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd graders in a foreign language partial immersion program with that of 1,320 students in the same grades and with similar demographics, but not in an immersion program. Students were tested to determine performance in mathematics and English language arts, and oral proficiency in the target language (Japanese, Spanish, or French) was examined for immersion students. Immersion students scored at least as well, and to some extent better than, nonimmersion students. There was no evidence that the immersion experience hampered academic and cognitive development. In target language proficiency, immersion students made steady progress toward oral proficiency in the target language, reaching the upper end of the midlevel proficiency range by the end of the 2nd yr.

Barik, H. C., & Swain, M. (1978). Evaluation of a French immersion program: The  Ottawastudy through grade five. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 10(3), 192-201. from PsycINFO database.

Assessed a Canadian French immersion program in which English-speaking pupils attending English schools are taught partially or completely in French. The program involved nearly 33% of the children who entered the Ottawa public school system in kindergarten. Two groups were matched according to socioeconomic status characteristics and were generally from a middle to upper-middle-class background. Sstudents were administered several measures including the Canadian Cognitive Abilities Test and Canadian Tests of Basic Skills. Only Grade 5 students were given the Metropolitan Science Test only. French immersion pupils were given a set of achievement tests in French and tests of reading comprehension in French. Results indicate that immersion group students were in general on the same level with or ahead of the regular English in most academic areas considered (e.g., work-study skills and mathematics) and were performing satisfactorily in French.

Genesee, F., & Lambert, W. E. (1983). Trilingual education for majority-language children. Child Development, 54(1), 105-114. from PsycINFO database.

Examined the effectiveness of double-immersion (DI) programs in which English-speaking children receive curriculum instruction in 2 second languages (Hebrew and French) before or along with 1st-language instruction. French second-language proficiency of Grade 5 DI students was as good as that of comparable students in single-immersion programs in French only and better than that of non-immersion students with conventional French-as-a-second-language instruction. None of the DI groups showed deficits in 1st-language development or academic achievement. It is concluded that DI, especially if begun early, can be an effective means for English-speaking children to acquire functional proficiency in 2 non-native languages and that instruction in the 1st language in the beginning of the program has no long-term benefits to first-language development but may slow down second-language learning. 

Turnbull, M., Hart, D., & Lapkin, S. (2003). Grade 6 French immersion students’ performance on large-scale reading, writing, and mathematics tests: Building explanations.   AlbertaJournal of Educational Research, 49(1), 6-23. from PsycINFO database.

We analyzed data from Ontario’s provincial testing program to ascertain if the reading, writing, and mathematics skills of grade 6 immersion students were comparable to those of regular English program students. The analysis confirms the results of earlier program evaluations that any lags in immersion students’ achievement in reading, writing, and math disappear by grade 6. We offer two explanations to account for this result. The lag explanation holds that taking reading, writing, and math in French until the end of grade 3 creates a lag in achievement until English is introduced into the curriculum, after which immersion students catch up to regular students’ performance. The selection explanation suggests that immersion test performance improves by grade 6 relative to regular English program counterparts because the composition of the grade 6 cohort is more select than that of earlier cohorts.



Cohen, A. D. (1974). The  Culver CitySpanish immersion program: The first two years. The Modern Language Journal, 58(3), 95-103. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

A report on the Culver City Spanish Immersion Program designed for the bilingual education of English speaking students learning Spanish showed definite patterns emerging following the second year of the program. The English speaking students were acquiring competence in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish, while maintaining English language proficiency. These students are also performing on the same level as their English speaking age group who were not in bilingual programs in content subjects such as mathematics.

Pagan, C. R. (2005). English learners’ academic achievement in a two-way versus a structured English immersion program [Abstract]. Dissertation Abstracts International, A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 66 (5), 1603-A-1604-A. (Available from UMI, Ann Arbor, MI. Order No. DA3175715.)

This study examines the academic achievement scores of English learners in a two-way immersion (TWI) program and a Structured English Immersion program in two California elementary schools. In addition, this study compares the English and Spanish academic performance of English learners with the achievement levels of English-dominant students in the same TWI program. A total of 194 students were followed over a three-year period beginning with the 1999-2000 school year and ending in 2001-2002. Assessment scores from the Stanford 9 (reading and mathematics) and the Spanish Assessment for Basic Education (SABE) (reading and mathematics) were collected and analyzed. The findings support work by other researchers who have reported that teaching English learners in their home language does not impede the acquisition of English. Similarly, English-dominant students in a TWIprogram, by the end of their first and third year of this study, were achieving at-or-above grade level in both English and Spanish.


D’Angiulli, A., Siegel, L. S., & Serra, E. (2001). The development of reading in English and Italian in bilingual children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 22(4), 479-507. from PsycINFO database.

This study analyzes the reading abilities of 81 English-speaking Canadian-born children (ages 9-13) who had been exposed to Italian at home, where both languages were spoken by their middle-class parents.   The children attended an Italian heritage language class every day for 35 minutes, starting in the first grade.  English and Italian monolingual comparison groups of students were used, which matched students on age.  English monolingual students were comparable to bilingual students in that they lived in same geographical area, were taught using similar methods, and had comparable socioeconomic status.  The Italian monolingual students from northern Italywere similar to the bilingual group in socioeconomic status and family background.  A series of word reading, pseudoword reading, spelling, working memory, and oral cloze tasks were administered in each language.  Findings indicate significant similar levels of performance in both languages, with correlations between English and Italian word reading, pseudoword reading, and spelling.  In comparing 9-10 year-old bilinguals to English monolinguals on tasks in English, the bilingual skilled readers scored higher on word-reading and spelling tasks than the monolingual skilled readers, although no differences were found on psuedoword reading tasks, working memory, or oral cloze tasks. 

Diaz, J. O. P. (1982). The effects of a dual language reading program on the reading ability of Puerto Rican students. Reading Psychology, 3(3), 233-238. from ERIC database.

This study revealed that Puerto Rican students recently arrived in the United States who participated in a bilingual reading program in Spanish and English performed significantly better than did similar students who did not participate in the program.

District of Columbia Public Schools,  Washington, D.C. (1971). A study of the effect of Latin instruction on English reading skills of sixth grade students in the public schools of the district of Columbia, school year, 1970-71., 18. from ERIC database.

This study examines the effect of language study on the English reading skills of sixth-grade school children. Achievement in reading skills of a control group of students receiving no foreign language instruction was compared with that in the Latin instruction group. Differences in scores of pretests and posttests of the more than 1100 students in three categories of reading achievement–vocabulary, comprehension, and total reading skills–were used as the data in determining average achievement in each group. Results of the study indicate that there is a significant difference between reading achievement scores of sixth-grade students receiving foreign language instruction and students with no foreign language instruction.

Garfinkel, A., & Tabor, K. E. (1991). Elementary school foreign languages and English reading achievement: A new view of the relationship. Foreign Language Annals, 24(5), 375-382. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

In a four-year study of the relationship between the length of elementary foreign-language education & English reading achievement, 672 students from a Midwestern elementary school were administered reading tests after they had received two or four years of foreign-language instruction – up to grade six. The sample represented varying intelligence levels. Results indicated that students of average intelligence profited most from the two extra years of instruction in terms of English reading skills.


Cunningham, T. H., & Graham, C. R. (2000). Increasing native English vocabulary recognition through Spanish immersion: Cognate transfer from foreign to first language. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(1), 37-49. from PsycINFO database.

Effects of Spanish immersion on children’s native English vocabulary were studied. Matched on grade, sex, and verbal scores on a 4th-grade Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT), 30 5th- and 6th-grade immersion students and 30 English monolinguals did 60 consecutive Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) items. The CAT and conventionally scored PPVT revealed comparable verbal ability between groups, but on 60 consecutive PPVT items, immersion did better than control because of cognates. On SECT, immersion significantly outperformed students in the control group. Findings support the idea that Spanish immersion has English-language benefits and that positive transfer (cross linguistic influence) occurs from Spanish as a foreign language to native English receptive vocabulary.

Hoffenberg, R. M., et al. (1971). Evaluation of the elementary school (FLES) Latin program 1970-71.R7202, Report: R-7202. 53.

This study analyzes the effect of one year of daily Latin instruction (15- to 20-minute lessons) on academic achievement, as measured by the vocabulary section of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Thirty four fifth- and sixth-grade experimental subjects were matched with an equal number of control group subjects on measures ofIowa test score (from the previous year), grade level, and neighborhood. The authors note, however, that the neighborhood matching only provided a “rough control over socioeconomic factors.” Results indicated that fifth-grade students in the experimental group were functioning on grade level (sixth month of fifth grade) on the English vocabulary measure while the control group scored one year below grade level. The authors concluded that Latin instruction was effective in building English vocabulary of experimental group students.

Masciantonio, R. (1977). Tangible benefits of the study of Latin: A review of research. Foreign Language Annals, 10(375), 382. From ERIC database.

This article examines the linguistic benefits of Latin in light of recent research which seems to document the relevance of Latin in building English vocabulary and reading skills. Evidence is cited from eight educational projects in which an experimental group of students taking Latin, and a control group not taking Latin, were pretested, posttested, and compared with regard to English verbal skills. In each case, the Latin students showed significant gains over the control group. Other studies supporting these findings are cited, as well as projects presently being conducted. These studies yield important pedagogical implications: (1) educational administrators and curriculum specialists should consider the significance of Latin in improving language skills; (2) the language profession should assume the responsibility of disseminating information about this research; and (3) responsible educators should combat the tendency to ignore research data for budgetary or other reasons.


Demont, E. (2001). Contribution of early 2nd-language learning to the development of linguistic awareness and learning to read/Contribution de l’apprentissage précoce d’une deuxième langue au développment de la conscience lingustique et à l’apprentissage de la lecture. International Journal of Psychology, 36(4), 274-285. from PsycINFO database

This study aimed to validate the effects of second language learning on children’s linguistic awareness. More particularly, it examined whether bilingual background improves the ability to manipulate morpho-syntactic structure. The study postulated that children who received a precocious learning of 2 languages (French-German) may develop enhanced awareness and control of syntactic structure since they need an appropriate syntactic repertoire in each language. In return, these children will gain access to the written language with more ease. The results showed an advantage for the children who attended bilingual classes since kindergarten: they were better at grammatical judgment and correction tasks and word recognition.


Kessler, C., & Quinn, M. E. (1980). Positive effects of bilingualism on Science problem-solving abilities. In J. Alatis (Ed.), Georgetown  Universityround table on languages and linguistics (pp. 295-308). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

Examined are the consequences of bilingualism on children’s ability to formulate scientific hypotheses or solutions to science problems & interactions of this ability with aspects of linguistic competence. Experimental group treatment consisted of 12 science inquiry film sessions & 6 discussion sessions, all taught by the same teacher in English. The quality of scientific hypotheses and the complexity of the language used to express them were found to be significantly higher for both experimental groups than for the control groups. However, the bilingual children, given the same instruction by the same teacher in formulating scientific hypotheses, consistently outperformed monolingual children both in the quality of hypotheses generated and in the syntactic complexity of the written language. One implication is that a well-organized bilingual program where children develop in two linguistic perspectives can make the positive interactions of cognitive functioning & language development more fully operative.


Holobow, N. E.,  Genesee, F., Lambert, W. E., & Gastright, J. (1987). Effectiveness of partial French immersion for children from different social class and ethnic backgrounds. Applied Psycholinguistics, 8(2), 137-151. from PsycINFO database.

Evaluated a program of partial (half-day) French immersion in kindergarten. The English and French language development of 122 native English-speaking children from both working and middle class backgrounds was assessed. Results indicate that the 73 experimental students progressed just as well in English as 70 matched controls who followed a conventional all-English program. It was also found that socioeconomically underprivileged students (both Black and White) benefited from an immersion-type introduction to a foreign language as much as students from middle class homes did. Degree of progress in French was not linked with social class background, even though this background factor clearly affected performance on the English language tests.


Bialystok, E. (1997). Effects of bilingualism and biliteracy on children’s emerging concepts of print. Developmental Psychology, 33(3), 429-440. from PsycINFO database.

Three groups of 4- and 5-year-old children were examined for their concepts of how print refers to language. All of the children could identify printed letters and their sounds but not read alone. The groups studied were monolingual speakers of English, bilingual speakers of French and English, and bilingual speakers of Chinese (Mandarin) and English. Bilingual children were equally proficient in both languages and were familiar with print and storybooks in both languages. The tasks assessed children’s understanding of the general correspondence between print and language in which the printed form represents a word and the specific correspondence between a constituent of print and one of language that determines representation in a given writing system. The general correspondence relation applies to all writing systems, but the specific correspondence relation changes for different kinds of writing systems. Bilingual children understood better than monolingual children the general symbolic representation of print. The older Chinese-English bilingual children also showed advanced understanding of the specific correspondence relations in English print.


Buriel, R., Perez, W., De Ment, T. L., Chavez, D. V., & Moran, V. R. (1998). The relationship of language brokering to academic performance, biculturalism, and self-efficacy among Latino adolescents. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 20(3), 283-297. from PsycINFO database.

Children who interpret for their immigrant parents are referred to as language brokers. The present study examined the relationship of language brokering to academic performance, biculturalism, academic self-efficacy, and social self efficacy. The many adultlike experiences of children who broker on a regular basis suggest that their cognitive and socioemotional development may be accelerated relative to children of immigrant families who broker infrequently or not at all. 122 Latino adolescents from immigrant families were participants in the study. Results showed that, as expected, language brokering was positively related to biculturalism, and in turn, both of these variables were positively related to academic performance. In addition, the strongest predictor of academic performance was academic self-efficacy. Results also indicated that, to some degree, language brokering is a gendered activity, with females reporting more brokering than males.


Cooper, T. C. (1987). Foreign language study and SAT-verbal scores. Modern Language Journal, 71(4), 381-387. from ERIC database.

Comparison of verbal Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and California Achievement Test (CAT) scores of high school students who had or had not taken at least one year of foreign language study supported the conclusion that length of foreign language study was positively related to high SAT verbal scores.

Eddy, P. A. (1981). The effect of foreign language study in high school on verbal ability as measured by the scholastic aptitude test-verbal. final report. U.S.; District of Columbia, from ERIC database

Students in the eleventh grade in three Montgomery County, Maryland high schools were the subjects of a study to determine the effect of foreign language study on performance on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The following results were reported: (1) when verbal ability is controlled, students who study foreign language for longer periods of time will do better on various SAT sub-tests and on the SAT-Verbal as a whole than students who have studied less foreign language; (2) having studied two foreign languages has no significant effect on SAT scores or on scores on the Test of Academic Progress (TAP); (3) language studied has no differential effect on SAT or TAP scores; and (4) there is some evidence that higher grades in foreign language study will increase the effect of this study on SAT scores (particularly the reading and vocabulary sub-scores). In conclusion, it appears that the effect of foreign language study makes itself felt more in the area of vocabulary development than it does in that of English structure use.

Olsen,  S.A., Brown, L.K. (1992). The relation between high school study of foreign languages and ACT English and mathematics performance. ADFL Bulletin, 23(3), from ERIC database.

Analysis of the American College Test (ACT) scores of 17,451 students applying for college admission between 1981 and 1985 found that high school students who studied a foreign language consistently scored higher on ACT English and mathematics components than did students who did not study a foreign language in high school.

Timpe, E. (1979). The effect of foreign language study on ACT scores. ADFL Bulletin, 11(2), 10-11.

School records of 7,460 students at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale were analyzed to assess the extent to which foreign language study correlates with ACT scores.  Students were selected on the basis of having ACT scores on file and having answered survey questions about their previous foreign language study.  To control for intelligence, students were divided into a “more gifted” group (GPA of 3.0 or higher, college preparatory program, top quarter of their class) and a lower group not meeting the stated requirements.   The authors explain that the more gifted students were more likely to take foreign languages, but that for each group, years of study led to improved composite ACT scores, with the highest effect on scores in the English subsection of the test. 


Wiley, P. D. (1985). High school foreign language study and college academic performance. Classical Outlook, 62(2), 33-36. from ERIC database.

Examines the correlation between high school foreign language study and success in college. Found that those who studied Latin, French, German, or Spanish in high school may be expected to perform better academically in college than students of equal academic ability who do not take a foreign language.


How does language learning provide cognitive benefits to students?


Foster, K. M., & Reeves, C. K. (1989). Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) improves cognitive skills. FLES News, 2(3), 4.

This study looks at the effects of an elementary school foreign language program on basic skills by looking at the relationship between months of elementary foreign language instruction in French and scores on instruments designed to measure cognitive and metacognitive processes. The study included 67 sixth-grade students who were divided into four groups that differed by lengths of time in the foreign language program. There was a control group of 25 students who had no French instruction and three groups of students who had participated in the program for different lengths of time (6.5 months, 15.5 months, and 24.5 months). The students who did receive foreign language instruction had received 30 minutes of French instruction daily after 30 minutes of basal reading in English. The control group received an additional 30 minutes of reading instruction in place of foreign language instruction. The results of the analysis showed that the groups who received foreign language instruction scored significantly higher in three areas (evaluation on the Ross test, total score of all cognitive functions on Ross test, and total score on Butterfly and Moths test) than the control group. In particular, the students who had received foreign language instruction scored higher on tasks involving evaluation which is the highest cognitive skill according to Bloom’s taxonomy. The linear trend analysis showed that the students who had studied French the longest performed the best.

Landry, R. G. (1973). The enhancement of figural creativity through second language learning at the elementary school level. Foreign Language Annals, 7(1), 111-115. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

The main hypothesis of this study is that the experience of learning a second language at the elementary school level is positively correlated to divergent thinking in figural tasks. This study is concerned with flexibility in thinking through experience with a foreign language. Comparisons are made between second language learners and single language learners. The second language learners score significantly higher than do the monolingual students. Second language learning appears, therefore, not only to provide children with the ability to depart from the traditional approaches to a problem, but also to supply them with possible rich resources for new and different ideas. 

Bamford, K. W., & Mizokawa, D. T. (1991). Additive-bilingual (immersion) education: Cognitive and language development. Language Learning, 41(3), 413-429. from ERIC database.

Examination of a second grade additive-bilingual (Spanish-immersion) classroom, compared to a monolingual classroom for nonverbal problem-solving and native-language development, found significant differences in problem solving in favor of the bilingual class and no significant differences in native-language development.

Barik, H. C., & Swain, M. (1976). A longitudinal study of bilingual and cognitive development.International Journal of Psychology, 11(4), 251-263. from PsycINFO database.

Presents findings of a study of IQ data collected over a 5-yr period (kindergarten to Grade 4) on pupils in a French immersion program (anglophone pupils receiving all instruction in French except English language arts) and pupils in the regular English program. Although year-by-year results may fail to show IQ differences between the 2 groups, repeated measures analysis indicates that the immersion group had a higher IQ measure over the 5-yr period. Supportive of those studies is a further analysis on the data of immersion students classified as “high” vs “low” French achievers. High achievers obtained significantly higher IQ measures and subtest scores than low achievers, even when scores were adjusted for initial IQ and age differences. F

Samuels,   D.   D., & Griffore, R. J. (1979). The Plattsburgh  french language immersion program: Its influence on intelligence and self-esteem. Language Learning, 29(1), 45-52. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

This study examined the effects of a year’s attendance in a French Language Immersion Program (FLIP) on children’s verbal & performance sections of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) & self-esteem, measured by the Purdue Self Concept Scale (PSCS). Eighteen 6-year-olds attended the program, while 13 6-year-olds constituted a control group which attended a regular English program. Analyses of data showed that differences between the FLIP & English control groups at the end of the school year were not significant for Verbal IQ or PSCS.Significant differences were found between groups on overall Performance IQ, Picture Arrangement, & Object Assembly. The increments in Performance IQ in the FLIP group are consistent with previously reported data suggesting that bilinguals have greater cognitive flexibility than monolinguals.


Met, M. (1991). Elementary school foreign languages: What research can and cannot tell us. In E. S. Silber (Ed.), Critical issues in foreign language instruction (pp. 63-79). New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.

Examined are some issues in elementary school foreign-language instruction, including concerns about when to begin such instruction, which language(s) to teach, learning methods, & measures of competence among children. The cognitive, academic, & attitudinal benefits of early language learning are discussed, along with factors that may affect the beginning grade level (resources, etc). In general it is asserted that the earlier the language is introduced, the more rapidly children stand to reap the benefits. FLES & FLEX instruction programs are considered as models, & content-based instruction is cited as most effectively transmitting the communicative & semantic nature of a foreign language to children. It is further suggested that both immersion & FLES learning programs may provide the best vehicles for producing research data on the effectiveness of primary school foreign-language study. 39 References. M. Chamberlain

Stewart, J. H. (2005). Foreign language study in elementary schools: Benefits and implications for achievement in reading and math. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(1), 11-16. from PsycINFO database.

Educators and policy makers in many countries have been expressing concern about how to improve students’ achievement in reading and math. This article explores and proposes a solution: introduce or increase foreign language study in the elementary schools. Research has shown that foreign language study in the early elementary years improves cognitive abilities, positively influences achievement in other disciplines, and results in higher achievement test scores in reading and math. Successful foreign language programs for elementary schools include immersion, FLES, and FLEX programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Weatherford, H. J. (1986). Personal benefits of foreign language study. ERIC digest.   U.S.; District of Columbia:

There is an increasing awareness of the usefulness of foreign language training in a number of seemingly diverse areas. Foreign language students develop not only technical skills related to language use but also tangible advantages in the job market because of their increased communication skills. Mastery of languages also enhances the enjoyment of travel abroad and reduces frustration and isolation during travel in other countries. Increased international business opportunities have made meaningful communication and understanding between cultures more valuable, and the individual’s ability to understand and empathize across cultural lines is increased with language study. In addition, research suggests that foreign language study enhances both cognitive development and academic achievement. While it is certain that people familiar with more than one language and culture can communicate more effectively with people of other countries and cultures, it is also possible that through learning another language and culture, people become more effective problem-solvers, closer to achieving solutions to pressing social problems because of an increased awareness of a wider set of options. (MSE)


Ben-Zeev, S. (1977). The influence of bilingualism on cognitive strategy and cognitive development.Child Development, 48(3), 1009-1018. from PsycINFO database.

Hypothesized that mutual interference between a bilingual child’s 2 languages forces the child to develop particular coping strategies which in some ways accelerate cognitive development. The sample consisted of 96 5-8 yr olds: 2 groups of Hebrew-English bilinguals, one group tested in the US and the other group tested in Israel; and 2 groups of monolinguals, with those tested in theUS speaking only English and those tested in Israelspeaking only Hebrew. In all groups parent occupation and education level were similarly high. In spite of lower vocabulary level, bilinguals showed more advanced processing of verbal material, more discriminating perceptual distinctions, more propensity to search for structure in perceptual situations, and more capacity to reorganize their perceptions in response to feedback.

Ben-Zeev, S. (1977). The effect of bilingualism in children from Spanish-English low economic neighborhoods on cognitive development and cognitive strategy. Working papers on bilingualism, no. 14. Bilingual Education Project.

A previous study found that middle-class Hebrew-English bilingual children were characterized by distinctive perceptual strategies and more advanced processing in certain verbal tasks, as compared to similar monolinguals. The present study tested whether similar strategies and response patterns will appear when the children involved are from different language groups and from relatively disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods. The results showed that Spanish-English bilingual children manifest similar strategies to those found in the previous study (distinctive perceptual strategies and more advanced processing in certain verbal tasks), although with some attenuation. The strategies apply to nonverbal as well as verbal material. These results appeared in spite of deficiencies in vocabulary and syntax usage for the Spanish-English bilinguals relative to their control group of similar ethnic and social background.

Duncan, S. E., & De   AvilaEdward A. (1979). Bilingualism and cognition: Some recent findings. NABE: The Journal for the National Association for Bilingual Education, 4(1), 15-50. from ERIC database.

Hispanic children in grades 1 and 3 were tested to examine the relationship between degree of bilingualism in English and Spanish, intellectual development level, and performance on two tests of cognitive-perceptual functioning or field dependence /independence. A positive, significant relationship was found between relative language proficiency and cognitive perceptual performance.

Fardeau, O. (1993). Franco-italian bilingualism in early childhood and cognitive development. [Bilinguisme precoce franco-italien et developpement cognitif] Il Forneri, 7(2), 83-99. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

Investigated is the relationship between bilingualism in children and cognitive development. French-Italian bilingual children (aged 7-11) were categorized into four groups: (1) equally fluent in both languages, acquired at home; (2) equally fluent in both languages, acquired scholastically; (3) dominant in French; & (4) dominant in Italian. A control group of monolingual Italian children is identified for comparison with the results. A series of cognitive tests was administered to the students and to the control group. It is concluded that bilingualism in early childhood exerts a positive effect on the formation of cognitive processes in children.

Ginsburg, H. J., & McCoy,   I.H. (1981). An empirical rationale for foreign languages in elementary schools. Modern Language Journal, 65(1), 36-42. from ERIC database.

Presents case promoting foreign languages in elementary schools using study conducted to explore relationships between bilingual and cognitive abilities of Mexican American children.Favors additive over subtractive bilingualism.

Hakuta, K. (1985). Cognitive development in bilingual instruction.   U.S.; Virginia:

Theory and research on bilingualism and its relationship to cognitive development have provided mixed results, especially in relation to the value of United States bilingual education programs. Little of the existing research on bilingualism is generalizable to U.S. minority language groups.However, one study of children in a bilingual program designed to see if intellectual abilities are related to the student’s degree of bilingualism rather than to compare bilingual and monolingual children found that a positive relation exists between bilingualism and various abilities, such as the ability to think abstractly about language and to think nonverbally. In addition, the correlation between the students’ abilities in the two languages developed in the bilingual education program became stronger in the course of the program, supporting the idea of the interdependence of the languages of the bilingual.

Liedtke, W. W., & Nelson, L. D. (1968). Concept formation and bilingualism.    AlbertaJournal of Educational Research, 14(4), 225-232. from PsycINFO database.

Two samples of Grade 1 pupils, 50 monolingual and 50 bilingual were tested on a specially constructed Concepts of Linear Measurement Test based on Piaget’s test items. The bilingual sample proved to be significantly superior to the monolingual sample on the concept formation test.

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(4), 345-346. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

The cognitive development of Italian-English bilingual & Italian monolingual children (aged 5-6) was studied based on measures of metalinguistic awareness, creativity, nonverbal abilities, & reading achievement. Following proficiency testing in both languages, students were assigned to groups of high & low Italian proficiency & high & low English proficiency, producing six groups for comparison. Results of comparison of performance on the measures of cognitive development indicated that students who demonstrated high proficiency in both English & Italian achieved higher scores on the creativity, metalinguistic awareness, & reading achievement tests.

Rodriguez, Y. G. (. (1992). The effects of bilingualism on cognitive development. (EdD, ProQuest Information & Learning/Temply University). Dissertation Abstracts International, 53 (4-A), 1104.

It was the primary purpose of this study to investigate the effects of bilingualism on the cognitive development and linguistic performance of children at various ages living in the same cultural environment. It also studied the relationship between formal operational thought and a prerequisite cognitive style as typified by field independence/field dependence for both bilingual and monolingual subjects. The bilingual subjects were tested for both language dominance and language proficiency. To investigate the interrelationships between bilingualism and cognitive function, it was necessary to include both verbal and non-verbal tests of cognition. No significant differences in performance could be attributed to lingualism, grade, or age with the exception of language proficiency correlated with cognitive level on analytical reasoning. The childrens’ overall cognitive level indicated some justification for the theoretical relationship between verbal and non-verbal measures of abstract thinking. The bilingual children used higher order rules more frequently than the monolingual children. The evidence seems to suggest that bilingualism may scaffold concept formation and general mental flexibility.


Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., Klein, R., & Viswanathan, M. (2004). Bilingualism, aging, and cognitive control: Evidence from the simon task. Psychology and Aging, 19(2), 290-303. from PsycINFO database.

Previous work has shown that bilingualism is associated with more effective controlled processing in children; the assumption is that the constant management of 2 competing languages enhances executive functions (E. Bialystok, 2001). The present research attempted to determine whether this bilingual advantage persists for adults and whether bilingualism attenuates the negative effects of aging on cognitive control in older adults. Three studies are reported that compared the performance of monolingual and bilingual middle-aged and older adults on the Simon task.Bilingualism was associated with smaller Simon effect costs for both age groups; bilingual participants also responded more rapidly to conditions that placed greater demands on working memory. In all cases the bilingual advantage was greater for older participants. It appears, therefore, that controlled processing is carried out more effectively by bilinguals and that bilingualism helps to offset age-related losses in certain executive processes.


Bialystok, E. (1999). Cognitive complexity and attentional control in the bilingual mind. Child Development, 70(3), 636-644. from PsycINFO database.

Investigates whether the bilingual advantage in control (selective attention) can be found in a nonverbal task, the dimensional change card sort, used by P. D. Zelazo and D. Frye (e.g., 1997) to assess Cognitive Complexity and Control (CCC). The author contends this problem contains misleading information characteristic of high-control tasks but minimal demands for analysis. 60 preschool children, half of whom were bilingual, were divided into a group of younger (mean age 4.2 yrs) and older (mean age 5.4 yrs) children. All the children were given a test of English proficiency (PPVT-R; L. M. Dunn and L. M. Dunn, 1981) and working memory (Visually-Cued Recall Task) to assure comparability of the groups and then administered the dimensional change card sort task and the moving word task. The bilingual children were more advanced than the monolinguals in the solving of experimental problems requiring high levels of control. It is concluded that these results demonstrate the role of attentional control in both these tasks.


Peal, E., & Lambert, W. E. (1962). The relation of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological Monographs, 76(27, Whole No. 546), 23. from PsycINFO database.

This study utilizing a group of monolingual and a group of bilingual 10-year old children obtained from 6 Montreal French schools were given verbal and nonverbal intelligence tests as well as measures of attitudes to the English and French communities. It is interesting to note that this study contrary to others found that bilinguals performed significantly better than their monolingual controls both on the verbal and the nonverbal intelligence tests. Factor analysis supported the hypothesis that the structures of intellect for the 2 groups differed with the bilingual group possessing a more diversified set of mental abilities. Attitude studies also appear to give the bilinguals a more favorable attitude, than their monolingual comparable peers, toward the English-Canadians and less toward the French-Canadians.


Bialystok, E. (1988). Levels of bilingualism and levels of linguistic awareness. Developmental Psychology, 24(4), 560-567. from PsycINFO database.

A framework for relating degree of bilingualism to aspects of linguistic awareness is presented in which metalinguistic tasks are described in terms of their demands for analysis of knowledge or control of processing. Two studies are reported in which children differing in their level of bilingualism were given metalinguistic problems to solve that made demands on either analysis or control. The hypotheses were that all bilingual children would perform better than monolingual children on all metalinguistic tasks requiring high levels of control of processing and that fully bilingual children would perform better than partially bilingual children on tasks requiring high levels of analysis of knowledge. The results were largely consistent with these predictions.

Galambos, S. J., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (1990). The effects of learning two languages on levels of metalinguistic awareness. Cognition, 34(1), 1-56. from PsycINFO database.

Observed the development of metalinguistic awareness and tested the bilingual hypothesis, by comparing metalinguistic skills in 32 Spanish-speaking and 32 English-speaking monolinguals and in 32 Spanish-English bilinguals aged 4 yrs 5 mo to 8 yrs. The Spanish and English metalinguistic tests each contained 15 different ungrammatical constructions and 15 grammatically correct “fillers.” For each item, the children were asked in the appropriate language to note whether the construction was correct or incorrect, to correct the errors they noted, and to explain why those errors were wrong. Data suggest that the experience of learning 2 languages hastens the development of certain metalinguistic skills in young children but does not alter the course of that development.  

Mohanty, A. K. (1992). Bilingualism and cognitive development of kond tribal children: Studies on metalinguistic hypothesis. Pharmacopsychoecologia.Special Issue: Environmental Toxicology and Social Ecology, 5(1-2), 57-66. from PsycINFO database.

Bilinguals’ superiority over unilinguals on cognitive, linguistic, and academic achievement measures has been explained in terms of a metalinguistic hypothesis that suggests that use of 2 or more languages endows the language users with special awareness of objective properties of language and enables them to analyze linguistic input more effectively. A series of studies compared unilingual and balanced bilingual Kond children to investigate the metalinguistic hypothesis. These studies show that the bilinguals outperform the unilinguals on a number of cognitive, linguistic, and metalinguistic tasks, even when the differences in intelligence are controlled. However, a study with unschooled bilingual and unilingual children showed no significant differences in metalinguistic skills. The metalinguistic hypothesis of bilinguals’ superiority in cognition may need to be reexamined in the context of the effect of schooling on metalinguistic processes.

Pattnaik, K., & Mohanty, A. K. (1984). Relationship between metalinguistics and cognitive development of bilingual and unilingual tribal children. Psycho-Lingua, 14(1), 63-70. from PsycINFO database.

Investigated the relationship between metalinguistic and cognitive ability of 120 bilingual and unilingual children who were 6, 8, and 10 yrs of age. Metalinguistic ability was determined from students’ abilities to perceive rhymes in language, judge the appropriateness of corrections of others’ speech, define words, substitute symbols, understand arbitrary language, and create words. Cognitive abilities were measured with Piagetian conservation tasks and the Progressive Matrices Test. Results suggest that bilingualism enhances the metalinguistic ability of children but does not improve their cognitive abilities because bilinguals are capable of switching from one linguistic code to the other. It is therefore contended that metalinguistic abilities constitute a set of abilities independent from cognitive abilities and that the better performance of bilinguals is due to their ability to reflect on language regardless of their cognitive development.


Kormi-Nouri, R., Moniri, S., & Nilsson, L. (2003). Episodic and semantic memory in bilingual and monolingual children. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 44(1), 47-54. from PsycINFO database.

Although bilinguality has been reported to confer advantages upon children with respect to various cognitive abilities, much less is known about the relation between memory and bilinguality. In this study, 60 (30 girls and 30 boys) bilingual and 60 (30 girls and 30 boys) monolingual children in three age groups (ages 7.9-9.4, 9.7-11.4 and 11.7-13.3 yrs) were compared on episodic memory and semantic memory tasks. Episodic memory was assessed using subject-performed tasks (with real or imaginary objects) and verbal tasks, with retrieval by both free recall and cued recall. Semantic memory was assessed by word fluency tests. Positive effects of bilingualism were found on both episodic memory and semantic memory at all age levels. These findings suggest that bilingual children integrate and/or organize the information of two languages and so bilingualism creates advantages in terms of cognitive abilities (including memory).


Stephens, Mary Ann Advisor: Esquivel, Giselle B. (1997). Bilingualism, creativity, and social problem-solving. (PhD,   Fordham   University).

The present study investigated the effects of bilingualism on the creativity and social problem-solving skills of 84 Hispanic children from Spanish-speaking homes. The subjects were students from a small city school district in the New York metropolitan area. Only students demonstrating high levels of proficiency (60% or higher on the Language Assessment Battery) were considered to be proficient in the language being assessed. Students who demonstrated proficiency in both Spanish and English were considered ‘bilingual’ for the purposes of the study. Those meeting the criterion in only one language were considered to be ‘monolingual.’ The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking was administered as the measure of creativity, and the Preschool Interpersonal Problem Solving Scale was used to measure social problem-solving abilities. The Ravens Progressive Matrices were used to measure general cognitive ability. General cognitive ability was used as a covariate in the statistical analyses. The results indicated that the bilingual children outperformed their monolingual counterparts in the area of social problem solving, but not in the area of creativity. The positive relationship seen between bilingualism and social problem solving further strengthens the research in the area of the positive advantages of bilingualism.



The present study investigated the development of verbal and spatial abilities over time within a group of Spanish(L1)-English(L2) bilingual children currently attending Kindergarten and First-grade bilingual education programs. The study was designed in response to methodological gaps in current research on bilinguals’ cognitive development; in particular, the study examined the cognitive effects of bilingualism on children who are just beginning to learn a second language and proposed a measure of degree of bilingualism that effectively controls for basic ability in the dominant language. The results firmly supported the claim that bilingualism fosters the development of verbal and spatial abilities. The relationship between degree of bilingualism and cognitive abilities was particularly strong for children of low second-language proficiency. This pattern of results questioned the validity of Cummins’ threshold hypothesis and suggested a new, alternative threshold hypothesis. The new (Diaz) threshold hypothesis states that variability in second-language proficiency would be related to variability in cognitive measures only before a certain threshold of proficiency in the second language is attained. Two different sets of statistical analyses gave support to a cause-effect model where degree of bilingualism is the causal factor affecting cognitive abilities. An experimental study examined the construct of cognitive flexibility and provided some support for the claim that the nonverbal advantages observed in bilingual children could be explained by their use of verbal mediation in the processing of nonverbal tasks.


Bialystok, E. (. (2005). Consequences of bilingualism for cognitive development.   New York, NY, US:Oxford   UniversityPress.

(From the chapter) Research addressing the possible cognitive consequences of bilingualism for children’s development has found mixed results when seeking effects in domains such as language ability and intelligence. The approach in the research reported in this chapter is to investigate the effect that bilingualism might have on specific cognitive processes rather than domains of skill development. Three cognitive domains are examined: concepts of quantity, task switching and concept formation, and theory of mind. The common finding in these disparate domains is that bilingual children are more advanced than monolinguals in solving problems requiring the inhibition of misleading information. The conclusion is that bilingualism accelerates the development of a general cognitive function concerned with attention and inhibition, and that facilitating effects of bilingualism are found on tasks and processes in which this function is most required. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

Cummins, J. (1993). Bilingualism and second language learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 13, 51-70. from Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts database.

The past five years have witnessed an increase in interest in bilingualism & second-language learning among researchers & policy makers. Growing cultural & linguistic diversity, cross-cultural contact, & the increasing recognition of the linguistic rights of indigenous & cultural minorities have fostered this interest. Recent advances in research & theory concerning these issues are addressed. Four topics are given specific attention: language shift in early childhood, cognitive & academic consequences of bilingualism & second-language learning, bilingualism & second-language learning during the school years, & theoretical approaches to the development of bilingualism & second-language learning. An annotated bibliography is also provided.

Diaz, R. M. (., & Klinger, C. (1991). Towards an explanatory model of the interaction between bilingualism and cognitive development. In   E. Bialystok (Ed.), Most of the chapters in this volume were originally presented in the invited symposium “language acquisition and implications for processing in bilingual children” at the meeting of the society for research in child development, 1987. (pp. 167-192). New York,NY, US: Cambridge   University Press.

(From the chapter) proposes an explanatory model of the relation between bilingualism and cognitive abilities that specifies the role of language awareness in the development of non-linguistic cognitive skills it is our belief that any successful explanation of the interaction between bilingualism and cognitive development must fulfill two basic requirements: first, the model should be formulated, developed, and tested within a solid theoretical framework regarding the relation between language and thought in development; second, the model should be constrained by the available data / in other words, the model should be developed in order to explain the reliable findings to date on bilingual cognitive development in order to fulfill our second requirement for the development of an explanatory model, we review the literature in search of findings that must be explained / discuss six different sets of findings regarding the relation between bilingualism and cognitive development cognitive advantages / metalinguistic abilities / additive and substractive situations / timing of positive effects / bilingual private speech Vygotsky’s theory of thought and language (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

Hakuta, K. (1986). Cognitive development of bilingual children No. ER3). U.S.; Connecticut:

The idea that bilingualism causes cognitive damage to children is no longer held by researchers, but it lingers in popular belief. It is based on the assumption that language is central to cognitive development, which is not held by all theorists. Another theoretical issue is whether the mind is a limited-capacity container or can accommodate two languages with ease. Social concerns arising from cases of poor acculturation have also influenced research on bilingualism. More recent research has compared the performance of “real” bilingual children, those with roughly equal language skills, with that of monolingual children and found the former group to have superior performance, especially in metalinguistic ability. There is now data suggesting that even language minority students in bilingual education programs who are in the process of learning English can benefit from some of the advantages of bilingualism. These studies contradict the argument that bilingualism in itself might cause cognitive confusion in the child, and support the idea that bilingualism can lead to higher levels of metalinguistic awareness and cognitive ability. In general, they point to the benefits to children of all language backgrounds of learning and maintaining two languages. (MSE)


How does language learning affect attitude and beliefs about language learning and about other cultures?


Bamford, K. W., & Mizokawa, D. T. (1989). Cognitive and attitudinal outcomes of an additive-bilingual program. U.S.; Washington:  ED305826

A study compared language skill development and cultural attitudes of second-grade children taught in an additive-bilingual program setting with those of second-grade children from a monolingual classroom setting. Zooming in on the attitude question: The researchers hypothesized that the Spanish-immersion group would be more positive than the control group on the Cross-Cultural Attitude Inventory (CCAI), an instrument that is a measure of attitudes toward Mexican-American culture.The results of the analysis revealed a significant change in attitudes towards Hispanic culture between the fall and spring administrations in favor of the Spanish-immersion group.  In the discussion section, the authors suggest that the results support Gardner’s model of language acquisition which proposes that attitudes towards the target language community may be outcomes of second language learning.

Peal, E., & Lambert, W. E. (1962). The relation of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological Monographs, 76(27, Whole No. 546), 23. from PsycINFO database.

This study compares measures of verbal and nonverbal intelligence, as well at student attitudes toward French and English communities.   The sample included monolingual [French only] and bilingual [French-English, with French as the native language] 10-year old children attending 6 Montreal French schools.  They were given two attitude questionnaires, called the “Attitude-to-English” and “Attitude-to-French” scales.   An analysis of a subgroup of the sample, matched on socioeconomic status, shows that the bilingual students scored significantly higher than monolingual students in positive attitudes toward English speakers.

Riestra, M. A., & Johnson, C. E. (1964). Changes in attitudes of elementary-school pupils toward foreign-speaking pupils resulting from the study of a foreign language. Journal of Experimental Education, 33(1), 65-72. from PsycINFO database.

An experimental group of 63 5th grade pupils who had been learning Spanish and a matched controlled group of pupils who had not been learning Spanish were tested to determine attitudes toward people of other countries. The experimental group had significantly more positive attitudes toward the Spanish-speaking peoples they had studied about than did the group that had not studied Spanish.



Morgan, C. (1993) ‘Attitude change and foreign language culture learning’ in Language Teaching, 26 (2), pp. 63-75.

D.E. Ingram (to see Ingram’s paper go to refers to Morgan’s article as “one of the most comprehensive reviews of the relations between foreign language learning and attitude change” (p.3 of Ingram’s paper).   Morgan reviews articles from as early as 1932 and makes conclusions regarding the fact that a number of factors were important if positive attitude changes occurred.  Morgan’s piece and Ingram’s piece might be helpful if you would like to look at features in language learning experiences that may be correlated with attitudinal change.