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Executive Functions and Language:

  • We aimed at unveiling the role of executive functions (EFs) and language-related skills in spelling for mono- versus multilingual primary school children. We focused on EF and language-related skills, in particular lexicon size and phonological awareness (PA), because these factors were found to predict spelling in studies predominantly conducted with monolinguals, and because multilingualism can modulate these factors. There is evidence for (a) a bilingual advantage in EF due to constant high cognitive demands through language control, (b) a smaller mental lexicon in German and (c) possibly better PA. Multilinguals in Germany show on average poorer German language proficiency, what can influence performance on language-based tasks negatively. Thus, we included two spelling tasks to tease apart spelling based on lexical knowledge (i.e., word spelling) from spelling based on non-lexical strategies (i.e., non-word spelling). Our sample consisted of heterogeneous third graders from Germany: 69 monolinguals (age: M = 108 months) and 57We aimed at unveiling the role of executive functions (EFs) and language-related skills in spelling for mono- versus multilingual primary school children. We focused on EF and language-related skills, in particular lexicon size and phonological awareness (PA), because these factors were found to predict spelling in studies predominantly conducted with monolinguals, and because multilingualism can modulate these factors. There is evidence for (a) a bilingual advantage in EF due to constant high cognitive demands through language control, (b) a smaller mental lexicon in German and (c) possibly better PA. Multilinguals in Germany show on average poorer German language proficiency, what can influence performance on language-based tasks negatively. Thus, we included two spelling tasks to tease apart spelling based on lexical knowledge (i.e., word spelling) from spelling based on non-lexical strategies (i.e., non-word spelling). Our sample consisted of heterogeneous third graders from Germany: 69 monolinguals (age: M = 108 months) and 57 multilinguals (age: M = 111 months). On less language-dependent tasks (e.g., non-word spelling, PA, intelligence, short-term memory (STM) and three EF tasks testing switching, inhibition, and working memory) performance of both groups did not differ significantly. However, multilinguals performed significantly more poorly on tasks measuring German lexicon size and word spelling than monolinguals. Regression analyses revealed that for multilinguals, inhibition was related to spelling, whereas switching was the only EF component to influence word spelling in monolinguals and non-word spelling performance in both groups. By adding lexicon size and other language-related factors to the regression models, the influence of switching was reduced to insignificant effects, but inhibition remained significant for multilinguals. Language-related skills best predicted spelling and both language groups shared those variables: PA for word spelling, and STM for non-word spelling. Additionally, multilinguals’ word spelling performance was also predicted by their German lexicon size, and non-word spelling performance by PA. This study offers an in-depth look at spelling acquisition at a certain point of literacy development. Mono- and multilinguals have the predominant factors for spelling in common, but probably due to superior language knowledge, monolinguals were already able to make use of EF during spelling. For multilinguals, German lexicon size was more important for spelling than EF. For multilinguals’ spelling these functions might come into play only at a later stage.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Sophia Czapka, Annegret KlassertGND, Julia FestmanORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00097
ISSN:1664-1078
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in Psychology
Subtitle (English):Their Differential Influence on Mono- vs. Multilingual Spelling in Primary School
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication:Lausanne
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Date of first Publication:2019/02/06
Year of Completion:2019
Release Date:2019/02/20
Tag:bilingualism; executive functions; lexicon size; literacy acquisition; primary school; spelling
Volume:10
Pagenumber:18
Funder:Universität Potsdam
Grant Number:PA 2019_05
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert
Grantor:Publikationsfonds der Universität Potsdam
Publication Way:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung, 4.0 International
Notes extern:Zweitveröffentlichung in der Schriftenreihe Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe ; 537