Abstract

Objective: Previous studies have found bilingual children outperform their monolingual peers on executive functioning tasks of attention, working memory, and inhibition. This study examines bilingual status in relation to measures of effortful control. The authors hypothesized that bilingual students would have an advantage over their monolingual peers across effortful control tasks. Method: This study is a retrospective analysis of data collected for a longitudinal study examining the relationship between grade retention and academic achievement. In order to be included in the larger study, students were below average on academic universal screening (i.e., at risk). Two-thirds of participants were also economically disadvantaged; ethnicity was heterogeneous and not matched to census data. Inclusion criteria for this study included IQ > 80, languages English and/or Spanish, and ages 6 and 7 years. Performance on measures of effortful control included motor control, inhibition, and task accuracy. Data were analyzed for two cohorts of children (n = 587) using SPSS 22.0. Results: It was found that monolingual children outperformed their bilingual peers on tasks of effortful motor control (n = 587; p = .04). Additionally, no difference was found between monolingual and bilingual children on measures of inhibition (n = 587, p = .44), or task accuracy (n = 587, p = .543). Conclusion(s): In contrast to previous research that indicated a “bilingual advantage,” the current results show that bilingual children may not show an advantage in motor control (e.g., motoric inhibition), inhibition, or task accuracy. Contributing factors that may explain these results and implications will be discussed.