Applied Psycholinguistics

Childhood bilingualism and metalinguistic skills: Analysis and control in young Swedish–English bilinguals

a1 Linköping University


Several scholars have claimed that childhood bilingualism may enhance development of linguistic awareness. In the present investigation, metalinguistic ability is studied in terms of the dual skill components outlined by Bialystok and Ryan (1985): control of linguistic processing and analysis of linguistic knowledge. A total of 38 English–Swedish bilinguals, assigned to two groups according to relative proficiency, and 16 Swedish monolinguals, all aged 6 to 7 years, received three tasks: symbol substitution, grammaticality judgment, and grammaticality correction. Effects of general bilingualism were found on tasks requiring a high control of linguistic processing, thus replicating previous findings. The results indicated that a high degree of bilinguality may also enhance the development of linguistic analysis. Moreover, it was found that certain metalinguistic skills – especially control of processing – were more readily applied in the subjects' weaker language.

c1 Jakob Cromdal, Department of Child Studies, Linköping University, S-581 83 Linköping, Sweden. Email: