30 Pages

Section 1 Metalinguistic and cognitive development

This section is concerned with the cognitive and metalinguistic development of bilingual children. Both in the research and public - media literature, controversy about the relationship between bilingualism and cognitive functioning exists. Some have argued that bilingualism will necessarily have a negative effect on cognitive devel­ opment because having, for example, two labels for each concept will be confusing and result in retarded conceptual development. Others have argued that this very same phenomenon will enhance cognitive growth: having two labels will force an early separation of word from its referent. This early separation of linguistic form from meaning, it is argued, will lead to a more analytic orientation to language and to the substance it conveys, thus enriching conceptual development. From this viewpoint, one would predict, for example, that a bilingual individual would be better able to detect linguistic ambiguities than would a unilingual individual, or be better able to restructure conceptual schemata.