Unpacking the Bilingual Advantage: Linguistic Diversity, Attention, and Reading Growth from Kindergarten to Grade Eight
Michael J. Kieffer

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



New York University

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
Research suggests that students who enter kindergarten proficient in two languages show more rapid growth in English reading than their monolingual peers from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. In the proposed study, I will investigate the extent to which this bilingual advantage is explained by enhanced abilities to control attention. Using latent growth modeling and propensity score matching with longitudinal data on a nationally-representative cohort, I will examine (a) whether students who enter kindergarten as bilingual demonstrate higher levels or rates of growth in attention, compared to monolinguals and students who enter as English language learners, and (b) whether these advantages, in turn, are associated with faster rates of growth in English reading. Findings will provide insight into the potential cognitive advantages associated with early bilingualism and will offer practical implications for improving early childhood education for linguistically diverse learners.
About Michael J. Kieffer

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