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Language Sciences Research Forum, Education in Challenging Contexts

last modified Jun 19, 2018 04:20 PM

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Professor Ianthi Tsimpli was invited by Language Sciences Research Forum at the University of Cambridge.  She presented the preliminary findings from her ESRC-DFID project (May 2016-April 2020).  She explained why some children in India do not benefit from the “bilingual advantage” in attention and learning skills observed in the Global North.  Data is from urban areas in Delhi and Hyderabad (slum vs. other disadvantaged environments), as well as rural locations in Bihar. Both state and private schools are included in the study. Methods include surveys and questionnaires, classroom observation, tasks to measure non-verbal IQ, cognitive flexibility, literacy, basic numeracy, and mathematical reasoning.

An interesting and potentially very significant finding is that, overall, children from urban slums score more highly for non-verbal IQ on some of the tasks than urban children from outside slum areas. It could be hypothesized that their life experiences (for example work, problem-solving in daily life) provides a cognitive advantage. This may be true also in other countries and other contexts.