Language Psychology



Froma practical standpoint, the bilinguals are people who normallycommunicate in more than one language. Currently, the increasedglobalization has seen more individuals especially children learnmore than one language. Mostly, such children come from familieswhere one language is used at home and the other at school. It isbelieved that bilingual children are extraordinary skilled, both inlanguage and speech. Therefore, this paper presents a review of 3journal articles on bilingualism, with the major concern on children.

JournalArticle 1:Sandra, B. (1977). The Influence of Bilingualism on CognitiveStrategy and Cognitive Development. ChildDevelopment 48,1009-1018.


‘TheInfluence of Bilingualism on Cognitive Strategy and CognitiveDevelopment’ is a journal that was written by Ben-Zeev Sandra in1977. The journal expounds on how bilingual environment affects thepeople involved and the need to develop appropriate strategies tocounter all the challenges involved.

Thisjournal hypothesizes that the mutual interference in a bilingualchild compels him/her to develop some mechanisms that accelerate thecognitive development. The author argues that a bilingual childexperiences difficulties when it comes to making decisions on theappropriate language to use and in which environment. As a result,she recommends the need for a bilingual child to put more effortstowards learning the language. The second hypothesis used by theauthor is related to how bilingualism affect processing of semantic[ CITATION San77 l 1033 ].

Sandraexplains that when associating the tasks using monolingual children,it is only the older ones who give associations of stimulus word tothe sort system of association based on contrast, super-ordinationand similarity[ CITATION Mil01 l 1033 ].He concludes that if such development takes place solely throughinduction rather than association, then for bilinguals, thedevelopment of categorical associations can be delayed.The bilinguals are considered to experience limited experience withcertain words. This tends to retard the appearance of the categoricalassociations.

Sandracarried out research to determine how bilingualism affects thecognitive strategy and cognitive development. To accomplish this, asample of two groups of the Hebrew-English bilingual kids wasidentified. One of the groups was evaluated in United States whilethe other took place in Israel. The other two groups comprised ofmonolingual children one group from United States and spoke Englishonly, while the other one comprised of children from Israel who spokeHebrew only. All the groups had their parent education level, andoccupation highly ranked. The WISC IQ estimation was done for thefour subsets of Picture Arrangement, Picture Completion,Statistically Controlled and Digit Span. The findings of this studyshow that despite the low vocabulary level, the bilinguals have ahigh-level of verbal processing, increased propensity to identifystructures in perpetual situations, more distinctions for perpetualdiscrimination, as well as the increased capacity to reorganize theirperceptions when responding to feedback[ CITATION San77 l 1033 ].


Thisarticle is a scholarly journal presenting research that was conductedby SandraBen-Zeev from the Faculty of Child Development,Bilingual Education Service Center, Illinois. First, the author hasstarted by giving a short summary-like abstract on what the paper isall about. This is critical as it prepares the reader on what toexpect in the paper in terms of background information, hypotheses,methodology, and results. Thereafter, Ben-Zeev has introduced thestudy topic, giving relevant background to the study. This isnecessary since she has given all that has been happening inbilingual children so that she can introduce her study topic andgiven the reasons why it is important. From this, it is possible torate the research and anticipate something different from what haspreviously been done by other authors.

Themethodology section is precise and informing. The subjects of theresearch have been elaborately described. For instance, she describesthe age ranges for the subjects and even gives the means. This iscritical, especially to the first-time reader as it informs on thesampling effectiveness. However, some aspects of sampling have beenignored, and this makes the reader wonder why such choices were made.For example, when the bilingual children are sampled for testing, itis said that those from United States were 2.5years while those fromIsrael were 3.5 years. I feel that Ben-Zeev has missed on samplingconsistency since it is logical for children who are older todemonstrate a better understanding of language that those who are oneyear younger. If then this was the case and it was necessary, thenthe tests administered should not be the same. It should have beenrelatively less complex for the 2.5 years than 3.5 years oldbilingual children.

Anotherthing that Ben-Zeev missed out was on the testing procedure. It isclear from the text that she used the language psychologists to testthe Israel bilingual children but used other Wechsler IntelligenceScale for Children (WISC) to bilingual children from United Stateswithout having necessarily to use the language psychologists. This iswrong, especially because of lack of uniformity in the testing hencethe results may be different and inaccurate. Use of languagepsychologists may be subjective in a way and hence prone tohuman-bias. Therefore, Ben-Zeev may have considered either using thetests alone for the two groups or use the language psychologists forthe two groups. This would have been fair enough, and consistency isthe results would have been enhanced.

Nevertheless,use of various tests such as on semantics, nonverbal understanding,symbol substitution, flexibility is syntactic rule and vocabularytests amongst other is a plus on her. Use of various tests increasedthe reliability of the results and ensured that all factors relatedto language proficiency are considered. If, for instance, she onlytested nonverbal proficiency, then syntactic rule flexibility andsymbol substitution would have been ignored, and this are verycritical components in cognitive development and strategy.

Inoverall, the language used is simple and easy to understand, thecontent is well developed appropriately, and overall research resultsare informing. The article ends by giving recommendations for futureresearch, and this means that there is still room for improvement inthe same subject area and that the current research provides a strongbackground for future research.

JournalArticle 2

Quin,W., &amp Ellen, M. (2011). Young Bilingual Children`s HeightenedSensitivity to Referential Cues. Journalof Cognition and Development 12(1),12-31.


Thejournal on ‘YoungBilingual Children`s Heightened Sensitivity to Referential Cues’, presents a research that was carried out by Quin and Ellen toidentify the challenges faced by children who grow up in bilingualenvironment as compared to their monolingual counterparts. Theresearch was carried out with the intention of demonstrating the needto constantly monitor dynamic communicative situations to determinethe response rate. The authors express the need for bilingualchildren to integrate with a wide range of information to enable themcommunicate effectively, as well as prevent any communicationbreakdowns. According to Tomasello (2003), bilingual children need toevaluate and monitor their masterly of language as they communicate.He notes further that bilingual children are at higher risk ofcommunication failure.

Thisarticle has quoted Sandra (1977) whose research revealed that thebilingual children between the ages of 5 and 9 have a highersensitivity to feedback cues. Also, study by Cummins and Mulcahyfound out that the bilingual children were better than theirmonolingual counterparts. Other studies referred by Quin and Elleninclude Siegal (2009) that showed bilingual children demonstrated ahigher level understanding than monolingual children. While manystudies referred in this article illustrated that bilingual childrencan interpret verbal feedback in a better way, their heightenedsensitivity to communicate can extend beyond the linguistic to thenon-linguistic interaction aspects like referential gestures.Therefore, the authors have suggested that there is a high likelihoodfor multilingual children to be better in non-verbal communicationthan monolingual ones.

Theauthors in this article conducted a research to determine whetherbilingual children are better than monolingual in picking up andusing nonverbal communicative cues like pointing and eye gazing[ CITATION Qui111 l 1033 ].The research targeted school childrenand it followed the procedure that was developed by Povinelli et al.(1997). This procedure entailed use of nonverbal referential gesturesto find a toy that was hidden in one of the boxes after sitting theexperimenter equidistant behind the empty box, or from the two boxes.It was hypothesized that bilingual children would use the referentialgestures in a way that was more effective than their monolingualcounterparts.

Threestudies were carried out. The first study used 48 monolingual andbilingual children between the ages of 3 and 4 24 monolingual and 24bilinguals. The second study used 12 English monolingual childrenwhile the third study used thirty-two 2-year old bilingual andmonolingual children 16 monolingual and 16 bilinguals. The resultsof the study revealed that bilingualism was a major contributor tothe ability of a child to infer the referential intent of thespeaker, particularly from the referential gestures. It was notedthat monolingual students mostly targeted the most reliable cues butunable for the subtler ones. On the other hand, bilingual childreneasily used subtler one (gaze) to understand the referential intentof the speaker, even when used under biased conditions. It wasdetermined that bilinguals as young as two years old performed betterthan five-year-old monolingual children. This article concludes bypointing out that experience of growing up bilingual improved theability of a child to use communicative and pragmatic cues. Thissubstantially illustrated that bilingual children are moreadvantageous when performing tasks that need high control levels thanthe monolingual children[ CITATION Qui11 l 1033 ].


Thispaper was published and availed online on February 2nd,2011. The two authors, Quin, and Ellen, correspondently work withthe Department of Psychology in Stanford University. This impliesthat they are directly involved in language psychology. Hence, theirresearch results are reliable.They have recommended that thearticle be used in research, private study and teaching purposes.

Quinand Ellen start by giving a brief background to the research. Theyclearly describe issues of bilingualism and how it influences thechild development. This is perfect and in order though I feel thatthese two authors missed on giving an abstract-type summary’. Inany research, it is critical first introduce a brief background tothe paper and let the reader know what the paper is all about. Thisis lacking in this article as it looks more of a literature reviewthan a research paper. For the first-time reader, it is hard to tellwhether the paper is a research, the results obtained and anyrelevant findings before going into the details.

Theintroduction part is comprehensive and detailed. For instance, theauthors have introduced how bilingualism enhances capabilities inchildren. Thereafter, they have reviewed various studies by differentauthors for the same topic. This is crucial as it justifies therelevance of their topic. It is from here that the authors capturethe attention of the reader, especially when they comment that thoughthe studies by other authors have been relevant, they tend to missout on nonverbal response to feedback cues. This is too tactful ofthem and is vital in demonstrating how important their research iscompared to the other authors. In any writing or research, it isimperative to demonstrate understanding of the research topic andexplain why the research is more important than what has been donepreviously.

Inmethodology section, the actual research has been divided into threestudies (Study 1, 2 and 3). The studies are different, yet the samein the sense that they are all relevant to draw the conclusion forthe study. Each study is elaborate with participants, materials used,procedures and results and discussion section explicitly explained.Also, in the methodology section, diagrams have been used toillustrate the procedures involved in testing. This provides thevisual perspective and makes the study easier to understand. Also,the data collected has been presented in tables. Normally, use ofgraphics and tables in any research is important, especially when thestudy is technical and is directed to non-technical audience.

Inoverall, the paper is detailed, precise and comprehensive and hencerecommended for any research on bilingual in children.

JournalArticle 3

Vera,F. G. (1999). Language Choice in Intervention With Bilingual ChildrenAmerican. Journalof Speech-Language Pathology 8,291-302


Thisjournal is about the challenges experienced by children when learningEnglish as their second language. Vera has highlighted the dilemmasurrounding the decision-making process. She wonders whether theintervention in first language delays the speed of getting the secondlanguage. The author notes that despite the clinicians authorized toseek language intervention to the children who are bilingual[ CITATION Jas06 l 1033 ].The issue of bilingual in childrenis portrayed as a contentious issue, and the author in this articlepresents the various approaches to bilingualism. He recommends theneed to continue with the meditation of the bilingual programs. Sheadvocates the performance of the intervention using native languageas the child learns the second language, and this should beaccompanied by concurrent translation approaches.

Themajor goal of the current research was to present the rationale foruse of the bilingual approach in intervention so as to describe theassumptions that underlay such approaches. Various studies relatedto bilingual intervention have been reviewed so as to come up with aconverging evidence of the bilingual input not retarding thedevelopment and mastery of language[ CITATION Ver99 l 1033 ].Also, the author portrays, through literature review, howlearning one language entails interrelated processes in other,particularly for atypical and typical learners. Vera argues thattransfer of skills to second language in children with limitedproficiency can be enhanced through the use of native language.

Inher arguments on bilingual approach in intervention of language, Verafeels that the language input should be comprehensible for thechildren. The underlying cognitive process involved in processing andacquiring the language are different across all the typology oflanguages, and that it is possible for two languages to interactdynamically in a single representational system. In conclusion, Verashows the need to emphasize the difference between various methods ofbilingual intervention.


Thisarticle was written in November, 1999. It is an American Journal ofPathology. The author is from San Diego State University. Thisimplies that the author is knowledgeable in areas of language andthat the article is reliable. When a person has interacted withbilinguals and known their way of life, then it is easier to conductany study and give comprehensive results.

Thestudy starts by giving the background to the study and the varioussimilar studies by other authors have been cited. Nevertheless,despite the introduction being detailed, I feel that the author couldhave given a brief abstract of the paper, the content, and anyfindings to expect in the paper. This is because as one progresses,there are tables containing data. For a first-time reader, it is notpossible to immediately tell why the table was used without having toread extensively to determine the intent of the author.

Interms of content flow, I feel that Vera has missed out on this. Theideas seem to be mixed up. For instance, in the all the subsections,the language difference in bilingual children seemed to behighlighted. If this were just introduced in one paragraph, then thearticle would have avoided over-repetition and overlapping of ideas.As a result, following the paper without having to re-read severallyto have the grasp of the ideas of the author is relatively difficult.

Integrationof the Three Journal Articles

Theauthors of the reviewed three articles express similar ideas. Forinstance, in the first article, Ben-Zeev conducted a research on howbilingualism influences the cognitive development and cognitivestrategy. In the second article, Quin and Ellen present a research oncognition and development on changes in sensitivity to referentialcues for young bilingual children. Finally, the third article by Veraentails the study on language choice intervention with the bilingualchildren. Therefore, the three articles talk about bilingual. Quinand Ellen even quote Ben-Zeev’s research reviewed in this paper.

Itcan be perceived from the three articles that bilingual childrenbetween ages 4 to 9 can listen very well. This necessitates making ofprompts and feedbacks from their communicating partners. Theirpragmatic awareness level is very high, especially in conversationalsituations. Therefore, it can be concluded that bilingual childrenare far much better in interpreting any verbal feedback as well asusing verbal input. While Ben-Zeev believes that bilingual childrencan easily interpret verbal messages, Quin and Ellen argue thatbilingual students apart from being good in interpreting the verbalfeedback are perfect identifies of nonverbal communicative cues. Onthe other hand, Vera expresses the need for bilingual’sintervention[ CITATION Jas06 l 1033 ].

Thefirst two articles by Ben-Zeev and Quin and Ellen illustrates thechallenges experienced by bilinguals in their mastery of twolanguages. For instance, there exist substantial relationship betweenlexical richness, sentence complexity and quantity of a mother’sspeech as they communicate to their children. Therefore, it can besaid that Quin and Ellen, and Ben-Zeev have similar chain of thoughtswhere they both comment that the regular experience by children ofcommunication of the communication challenges is critical inheightening the sensitivity of the communicative intent of thespeaker, as well as increase understanding and identification ofcommunicative cues. Vera highlights this further by arguing thatinstead of the input per se, the children and parents should haveself-generated efforts that are critical in coping up with thecommunicative challenge. She believes that children who gethigh-level competence of the first language are in a position to showcomparable achievements in learning. The language interventionapproach supporting the language needs for the children canfacilitate teaching and learning ability.

Thethree articles have shown that the bilingualism in children affectsthem positively and increases their ability to resolve complex issuesthat involve high-level controls in linguistic processing. Theresearches by Ben-Zeev, Vera, Quin and Ellen reveal the empiricalevidence of the bilingualism. For instance, Ben-Zeev used WISC IQ toevaluate the semantic understanding that gave more associations ofthe conceptual type instead of type dependent on the sequentialprobability. These researches show positive effects of thebilingualism on metalinguistic abilities. Nevertheless, the maindilemma is explaining through use of models the positive effects tolearning.


Jaswal, V. K., &amp Hansen, M. B. (2006). Learning words: Children disregard some pragmatic information that conflicts with mutual exclusivity. Developmental Science, 9(2), 158-165.

Mills, J. (2001). Being Bilingual: Perspectives of Third Generation Asian Children on Language, Culture and Identity. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 4(6), 383-402.

Quin, Y. W., &amp Ellen, M. (2011). Young Bilingual Children Heightened Sensitivity to Referential Cues. Journal of Cognition and Development 12 (1), 12-31.

Sandra, B. (1977). The Influence of Bilingualism on Cognitive Strategy and Cognitive Development. Child Development 48, 1009-1018.

Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a language: A usage-based theory of language acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vera, F. G. (1999). Language Choice in Intervention With Bilingual Children American. Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 8, 291-302.