Peal and Lambert`s Legacy

Peal and Lambert’s Legacy:
The Canadian Breakthrough
in Bilingual Research
Amelia Mareva
New Bulgarian University
5th International Conference
of Central European Canadianists
Contemporary context
a major fact of life in the world today (Bhatia & Ritchie 2004)
far from being exceptional is a problem which affects the majority of the
world’s population (Mackey 1967)
exists in nearly all countries of the world (Grosjean 1982)
the majority of the world’s population is bilingual (DeBot 1992)
an increasing number of children grow with “bilingualism as a first language”
(Hakuta 1986)
two-thirds of the world’s children grow in a bilingual environment (Crystal
there is a real sense in which a monolingual person, with a monolingual
temperament, is disadvantaged or deprived (Crystal 2000)
the doom of monolingualism (Graddol 2006)
monolingualism is an aberration, an affliction of the powerful (Edwards 2004)
Theoretical context
Bilingual research
Has grown dramatically worldwide, especially in Canada, Belgium, South Africa,
the USA, etc.
The concept one nation – one language lost its relevance in linguistics: the point of
reference is no longer the ‘ideal monolingual speaker/listener’ (Romaine 1989)
Bilingualism defined: a complex concept with ‘open-ended semantics’ (Beardsmore
1986); Bloomfield 1933, Haugen 1953, Weinreich 1953
The debate on the positive and negative effects of bilingualism
Early studies: ‘retarded’, ‘confused’, ‘feeble-minded’, ‘handicapped’ in their mental
growth (Saer 1924, Goodenough 1926, Thomson 1952)
If it were possible for a child to live in two languages, at once equally well,
so much the worse. His intellectual and spiritual growth would not thereby
be doubled, but halved (Laurie 1893: 18)
Peal and Lambert’s watershed paper: favourable cognitive and socio-cultural
consequences of bilingualism
Modern perspectives: Bilingualism is viewed as a factor of cultural enrichment, a
valuable intellectual and societal asset
Elizabeth Peal and Wallace Lambert’s
The Relation of Bilingualism to Intelligence (1962)
A bilingual child is
[…] a youngster whose wider experiences in two cultures
have given him advantages which a monolingual does not
enjoy. Intellectually his experience with two language
systems seems to have left him with a mental flexibility, a
superiority in concept formation, a more diversified set
of mental abilities […] There is no question about the fact
that he is superior intellectually. […] In contrast, a
monolingual appears to have a more unitary structure of
intelligence which he must use for all types of intellectual
tasks (Peal and Lambert 1962:20)
The Canadian backdrop
The twentieth century belongs to Canada (Wilfrid Laurier, PM, 1904)
Socio-political context: redefining the role of French Canadians
The Quiet Revolution (1960–1966): rejection of traditional values “les trois
dominantes de la pensée canadienne-française: l’agriculturisme, le messianisme
et l’anti-étatisme” (Michel Brunet)
the Official Languages Act (1969)
Academic climate
The era of the “cognitive sixties”
Study of bilingualism has been a respectable and theoretically profitable
enterprise in Canadian psychological circles. [Canadian researchers] are
confronted with bilingualism even in their own homes, as their children
attempt to struggle with bilingualism (Hakuta 1988: 304)
W. Lambert – ‘father of research on bilingualism’
The experiment
Subjects: number, age, gender, class, proficiency
Two groups of 110 ten-year old fourth-graders from six
middle-class French schools in Montreal with a gender
ration of six boys to four girls: ‘balanced’ French-English
bilinguals and French monolinguals
Testing instruments: verbal and non-verbal IQ tests
language tasks and self-rating
Results: Bilinguals scored higher than monolinguals on 15
out of 18 measures; no significant difference on the
remaining three measures.
Methodological breakthrough
Peal and Lambert “rectified many of the methodological weaknesses” of the previous
studies (Baker and Sienkewicz 2000: 69)
More rigorous criteria for sampling and control of the variables involved aiming to
“to match the groups on as many features known or suspected to correlate with
intelligence as possible” (Peal & Lambert 1962):
socioeconomic status of the comparison groups: educational background (the
same French school system), similar socioeconomic background (relatively affluent
middle-class Francophones, a linguistically rich environment)
linguistic proficiency: “true, balanced bilinguals” vs. “pseudobilinguals”
battery of testing instruments
 language proficiency: The Word association test, the Word detection test,
Peabody vocabulary tests
 intelligence: standardized in the native language of the subject – LavoieLaurendau test, Raven Progressive Matrices Test, Thurstone Primary Mental
Abilities Test and subject’s school grades
 attitude: questionnaires, self-ratings
Theoretical contribution (1)
Bilingualism and intelligence
more ‘diversified structure of intelligence’: greater
cognitive flexibility, creativity and divergent thought
greater role of language(s) in structuring intelligence
better at reorganizing visual patterns and better equipped
to solve mental problems
greater metasemiotic and metalinguistic awareness
Research after 1962 has tended to move away from the “monistic”
notion of IQ to the “pluralistic” notion of a multi-component view of
intelligence and cognition’ (Baker 1988: 20)
Theoretical contribution (2)
Code switching: the alternation two languages within a single
Bilinguals typically acquire experience in switching from one
language to another, possibly trying to solve a problem while
thinking in one language, and then when blocked, switching to the
other. This habit, if it were developed, could help them in their
performance on tests requiring symbolic reorganization since they
demand a readiness to drop one hypothesis or concept and try
another. (Peal and Lambert 1962:14)
flexibility in tasks requiring conceptual reorganization (thinking
about things in a new way)
increased capacity for communication (signaling membership in a
group, maintaining group cohesiveness, but also a sign of
language interference)
The impact (1)
Lambert 1972, 1976: first neurophysiological studies; social psychology of
Liedtke and Nielson 1968, Bain 1974: confirm the findings in other parts of
Ianco-Worrall 1972: the relationship between object-naming ability and
Ben-Zeev 1977: bilingual’s superiority in conceptualizing linguistic rules
Cummins: 1976, 1978: ‘threshold’ level of competence; the interdependence
Duncan and De Avila 1979: positive correlation between linguistic
proficiency and bilingualism
Diaz 1983, Gardner 1983 Cummins 1984, Mclaughlin 1984, Bain and Yu
1989 The McGill Conference in Honour of Wallace E. Lambert
Present day: Bialystok 2001, Baker 2001, Cummins 2001
The impact (2)
Mid-1960s - Lambert and Tucker pioneered the development of
Canada’s first second language immersion programme – the
“Canadian model of bilingual education” (innovative programme in
which the French language was used as a medium of instruction for
elementary school students whose home language was English)
Students in bilingual immersion programs have scored as well as their nonbilingual peers in tests of their common language, but much higher in the
second (minority or foreign) language.
Students in bilingual programs have greater metalinguistic awareness than
monolingual students. For example, young children are more aware that the
name of something is simply a convention of language – it is not an inherent
property of the thing itself. They understand that a language is an arbitrary
system; that there is no “right” language against which other languages can be
judged. This is an essential awareness in a multilingual and multicultural world.
List of selected references
Baker, Colin, (2001). Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. Multilingual Matters.
Baker, Colin and Anne Sienkewicz, (2000). The Care and Education of Young Bilinguals.
Multilingual Matters.
Bhatia, Tej K. and Ritchie, William C, (2004). Handbook of Bilingualism. Oxford: Blackwell
Bialystok, Ellen, ( 2001) Bilingualism in Development: Language, Literacy and Cognition, CUP.
Crystal, David, (2000) Language Death. CUP.
Cummins, Jim, (1976). The Influence of Bilingualism on Cognitive Growth: A Synthesis of
Research Findings and Explanatory Hypothesis. Working Papers on Bilingualism, 9, 1-43
Graddol, David, (2006). English Next, British Council, UK,
Hakuta, Kenji, (1986) The Mirror of Language: The Debate on Bilingualism. New York: Basic
Hakuta, Kenji, Bernardo M. Ferdman and Rafael M. Diaz, (1987). Bilingualism and
cognitive development: Three perspectives. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.), Advances in applied
psycholinguistics, vol. II: Reading, writing and language learning, 284-319. CUP.
Ianco-Worrall Anita D., (1972). Bilingualism and cognitive development. Child Development,
43, 1390-1400
Laurie, S. S., (1893). Lectures on Language and Linguistic Method in the School. University of
Peal, Elizabeth and Lambert, Wallace, (1962). The Relation of Bilingualism to Intelligence,
Psychological Monographs, 76, 1–23.
Reynolds, Allan, (1991). Bilingualism, Multuculturalism and Second Language Learning: The
McGill Conference in Honour of Wallace E. Lambert (ed) Allan G. Reynolds, Lawrence Erlbaum
Romaine, Suzanne, (1995). Bilingualism, Blackwell Publishing.
Weinreich, Uriel, (1953). Languages in Contact: Findings and Problems. New York : Linguistic

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