The Developmental Role of Attentional Control in Language Learning
Increasing research suggests that bilingual children have advanced (relative to monolingual children) development of attentional control. The present study includes 94 bilingual and 110 monolingual child participants from a variety of language and age groups (2.5 to 5 year-olds) to systematically investigate how early learning/exposure to more than one language is related to the developmental shift of attention and its possible implications in early language learning. Results from the present study support an initial bilingual advantage in the Attention Network Test (ANT; a nonlinguistic task measuring attentional shifting), with monolinguals demonstrating comparable performance over time. Furthermore, significant relationships were found among overall accuracy, response time, the efficiency of individual attentional networks of the ANT and the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventories (MCDI; a standardized parental report used to assess children's lexical growth). Moreover, this was specifically the case for the selected lexical category of adjectives. The current study provides new insights into the early developmental trajectory of attention among monolingual and bilingual children and how effective attention may be relevant developmental component for early language learning.