My research focuses on understanding how bilingual children acquire their languages, the cognitive and neural networks that allow children to successfully acquire multiple languages and become proficient, and how culture can support children during this process. Through these mechanisms, I investigate what allows diverse and multilingual children to learn their languages, and provides them with the skills to succeed academically.
The methods of my studies have included experimental designs, neuroimaging (fMRI and fNIRS), standardized assessments, surveys, and one-on-one qualitative child-friendly interviews.
bilingualism & Language abilities
A variety of abilities form the foundation of language acquisition, including: knowledge of language sounds (phonology; Ugolini, Wagley, Arredondo, Ip, Hsu, & Kovelman, 2016), knowledge of units of grammar that carry meaning (morphology; Arredondo, Ip, Hsu, Tardif, & Kovelman, 2015; Ip, Hsu, Arredondo, Tardif, & Kovelman, 2016), and awareness of sentence structures (syntax; Arredondo, Hu, Seifert, Satterfield, & Kovelman, under review). My research has focused on each of these linguistic elements in relation to literacy acquisition, and their functional organization in the brain among monolingual and bilingual children.
bilingualism & attentional networks
Throughout our lifetime, we encounter multiple linguistic contexts that require some type of conflict resolution, such as adjudicating the meanings for similar sounding words like ‘I’ and ‘eye’. Theories on bilingual cognition suggest that this experience is doubled for bilinguals, and creates an increased demand for attentional mechanisms (Bialystok, 2015). My research has shown that during attention tasks, bilingual children exhibit greater brain activity in left fronto-parietal brain regions that are associated with language processing; while monolinguals show separate brain systems for attention (Arredondo dissertation, 2017; see also Arredondo, Hu, Satterfield, & Kovelman, 2016).
Bilingualism & culture
Culture also plays a role in the development of cognitive processes. My colleagues and I have conducted longitudinal international research in Argentina, the United States and Vietnam, revealing that bilingualism and cultural experiences have independent influences on children’s attentional networks (Tran, Arredondo, & Yoshida, 2015; Tran, Arredondo, & Yoshida, under review).
I also studied whether bilingual and bicultural experiences impact children’s socioemotional development (i.e. affect) and their academic achievement (Arredondo, Rosado, & Satterfield, 2016), and found children's positive emotions to their ethnic background were related to their literacy skills, providing evidence that forming a sense of bilingual and bicultural identity positively impacts children’s socio-emotional health, which in turn impacts their academic success.