Research Morsel: a Potential Downside for Bilingualism?


Research into the benefits of bilingualism has gotten lots of attention in recent years. For example, some scholars argue that being bilingual protects our cognitive dexterity as we age.

However, a recent study suggests a potential downside for bilinguals. Folke et. al. find that, compared to their monolingual peers, young bilingual adults have a harder time with metacognitive processing — that is, analyzing their own cognitive performance.

If further research supports this finding, then teachers and scholars will have to add this potential short-term cognitive detriment to their calculus as they consider long-term cognitive benefits.

To be clear: this research does not show that being bilingual is cognitively bad, or that bilingual education is a bad idea. Instead, it offers one potentially interesting data point for a complex discussion — a discussion that must consider benefits, detriments, and many, many unknowns.


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