Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Cognitive Development of Young Dual Language Learners: A Critical Review of the Research

Parents Night 2015 at Hola Dual Language School
Hoboken, NJ
The research is clear and consistent on the positive outcomes associated with dual language learners and has been for some time. The following review examines in some detail the existing research on the cognitive development of Dual Language Learners (DLL's) and synthesizes the resource into a fairly concise and digestible format. Findings indicate that despite the variability in the questions asked, measures used, and definitions of bilingualism, a relatively consistent pattern of positive results emerge in certain areas of cognitive development that includes executive control, theory of mind and brain function. While there are also many other reasons for dual language instruction that have been known for some time, the cognitive developments of our youngest learners is especially noteworthy. 

It is this research as well as the many other positive aspects of dual language instruction that first led me and the then Superintendent of Schools to recommend a dual language program for the Hoboken School District in 2009. Unfortunately, that possibility was voted down by the Hoboken Board of Education in a vote of 4-3. Thankfully, the dual language program was eventually established as a public and free charter school in Hoboken, NJ and now enjoys an excellent reputation as well as meeting the needs and wishes of the community and enjoying statewide recognition as an exemplary dual language program in New Jersey

"The children that we have to worry about are these children that are failing now." Hoboken resident Ruth McAllister* asks the Board not to pass Hola at tonight's meeting. (click here) February 10, 2009  *Ruth McAllister is now known as Ruth Tyroler and is currently the President of the Hoboken Board of Education. 

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