The effect of bilectalism on executive functioning and second language reading comprehension. A comparison study
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Bilingualism is a common phenomenon nowadays. More and more people are acquiring a second language as children and becoming bilinguals. Previous studies have shown that there is some bilingual advantage over monolinguals when it comes to an individual’s cognitive abilities. Specifically, studies on both children and adults have shown that bilinguals have an enhanced executive function and working memory, cognitive abilities that people use throughout their lives. What is more, recent studies have shown that this bilingual advantage extend to bilectalism as well. Bilectalism refers to the mastering of two different varieties of the same language. Thus, the main goal of this master’s dissertation is to examined whether bilectalism enhances the working memory and the executive function and thus, whether the bilingual advantage extends to bilectalism as well. What is more master’s dissertation aims to also examine whether bilectalism affects reading comprehension in L2. For the purposes of the study, we administered a number of cognitive measures. In an attempt to evaluate the working memory, the Digit Span Forward and Backward, and a Verbal Fluency task were administered. For evaluating the executive function, we used a colour Stroop Test, while for the reading comprehension in L2 three passages from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) standardized exams were extracted followed by five multiple-questions each. For the purposes of the study a total of 60 young adults were administered, specifically 30 Greek speaking monolinguals and 30 Cypriot-Greek bilectals. Our results revealed that the bilectal group performed significantly better in all the cognitive tasks and specifically, in task that were more cognitively demanding. These findings suggest that the bilingual advantage exists and it further extends to bilectalism as well. As far as it concerns the three reading comprehension passages, the groups performed similarly and there was not any significant difference among the groups. This finding did not support our hypothesis that bilectals will outperform monolinguals in the reading comprehension passages.