What did Simon say? Revisiting the bilingual advantage


Address for correspondence: J. Bruce Morton, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, N6A 5C2, Canada; e-mail: bmorton3@uwo.ca


Bilingual children often outperform monolingual children in tasks of cognitive control. This advantage may be a consequence of the fact that bilinguals have more practice controlling attention due to an ongoing need to manage two languages. However, existing evidence is limited because possible differences in ethnicity and socioeconomic status have not been properly controlled. To address this issue, we administered the Simon task to bilingual and monolingual children of identical ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Bilingual and monolingual children performed identically, whereas children from higher SES families were advantaged relative to children from lower SES families. Controlling differences in SES and ethnicity may attenuate the bilingual advantage in cognitive control.