Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

Effect of bilingualism on Executive Functions (EF) of young bilingual children growing up in New Zealand

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
University of Auckland
Lead Researcher:
Shaheena Sulaiman, Kane Meissel, Annette Henderson, Karen Waldie
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Culture and Identity
Secondary Classification:
Psych and Cog

This study will be conducted as part of a full-year 120 pts M.Ed thesis. The primary aim of the research is to explore the relationship between bilingualism and executive functions (EF) of young bilingual children (8 years) growing up in New Zealand. It is believed that bilinguals benefit from their early use of two or more languages, requiring them to control the language in use and suppress another language repetitively. This process is argued to help foster the development of advanced neurological systems for monitoring, such as attention and inhibition which are the key aspects of EF. However, some recent research has found no or very little evidence of bilingual advantage with different groups. The contradictory findings have raised questions on the presence and extend of bilingual advantage and warrant further investigation. Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) dataset provides a unique opportunity to study the bilingual advantage hypothesis with a large sample, resulting in contextual findings pertaining to New Zealand's increasing linguistic diversity, especially among young children. The NIH Toolbox Cognitive Battery scores from GUiNZ 8 year data collection wave will be analysed by comparing mono and bilingual children’s scores in inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and working memory domains. Also, it will be examined whether demographic and socio-economic factors moderate this bilingual advantage. The conclusions of the study will be disseminated through a published article and thesis submission.