Arithmetic in the Bilingual Brain: Language of Learning and Language Experience Effects on Simple Arithmetic in Children and Adults

Vanessa R. Cerda, Nicole Y. Wicha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

In 2020, 21.5% of US preschoolers spoke a language other than English at home. These children transition into English-speaking classrooms in different ways, often handling foundational concepts in two languages. Critically, some knowledge may be dependent on the language of learning. For instance, both bilingual children and adults typically prefer, and exhibit higher performance on arithmetic in the language in which they learned math (LA+) compared with their other language (LA−). The typical interpretation is that arithmetic facts are accessed from memory more efficiently or solely in LA+. However, recent research suggests that bilingual arithmetic is not restricted to one language in memory, and that language experience plays an important role in performance. Moreover, evidence suggests children and adults process arithmetic fundamentally differently. Thus, bilingual arithmetic memory may manifest differently across the life span. This review outlines evidence to date at the intersection between the brain basis of bilingualism, arithmetic processing, and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMind, Brain, and Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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