Referential communication and executive function skills in bilingual children
- Start date: 1 October 2012
- End date: 30 June 2015
- Funder: Leverhulme Trust
- Primary investigator: Prof Cécile De Cat
- External co-investigators: Ludovica Serratrice (University of Reading)
Research assistants: Sanne Behrends, Furzana Shah
The aims of the project were
- to extend previous findings on the relationship between key executive function skills (cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control and working memory) and language experience to bilingual children who have unbalanced exposure to two languages;
- to gather new information on the role played by language proficiency, bilingual experience and SES on the above subset of executive function skills and on referential abilities;
- to develop our understanding of the linguistic and non-linguistic contextual variables affecting children’s referential choices (visual context, awareness of differences in perspective between speaker and listener, and linguistic factors affecting a referent’s prominence).
This is an experimental study of the relationship between executive function skills (cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control and working memory) and language experience in young bilingual children with unbalanced exposure to two languages, investigating these children's ability to make referential choices appropriate to their listener's information needs.
Publications and outputs
De Cat, C. (2015) The cognitive underpinnings of referential abilities. In L. Serratrice & S. Allen (Eds.), The Acquisition of Reference. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
De Cat, C. & Serratrice, L. (under review). Predicting language proficiency in bilingual children. Open Science Framework, osf.io/wkgv7.
De Cat, C., Gusnanto, A., & Serratrice, L. (2017). Identifying a threshold for the executive function advantage in bilingual children. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1-33. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263116000486
Serratrice, L. and De Cat, C. (2019) Individual differences in the production of referential expressions: the effect of language proficiency, language exposure and executive function in bilingual and monolingual children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. ISSN 1469-1841.