IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


How does literacy experience in more than one language shape cognition?

This research investigates the role of biliteracy in shaping cognition.

The project started in April 2021 and will end in December 2022.


Bilingualism is a major phenomenon in our multi-cultural society, there are almost 1.6 million bilingual/multilingual pupils in maintained schools in England. 

Recent research demonstrates that higher engagement in bilingual language environments boosts some features of cognition, including executive control (EC), among bilinguals. EC refers to skills needed to manage cognitive resources during tasks such as focusing attention and ignoring distractions. 

Previous research has also found evidence of bilingual advantage to working memory (WM). The vast majority of studies explored cognitive effects of bilingualism by examining mainly the role of language use and proficiency without taking into account bilinguals’ literacy experience in both languages, a crucial aspect of bilingual development that requires acquiring but segregating distinct orthographic, phonological and grammatical rules. 

The current project extends this investigation to the role of biliteracy in shaping cognition.


Two groups of typically developing children aged 8 to 11 years - English monolingual children, and English/Greek bilingual/biliterate children - who have either been exposed to both languages from birth or were exposed to Greek first and later on to English (i.e. before the age of 5 years), are invited to take part in a remote/online assessment of their language proficiency and literacy (in both languages), non-verbal reasoning, working memory and executive control skills.


Project leaders