Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Sara Incera

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

Dan Florell

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Richard Osbaldiston

Department Affiliation



We examined the relationship between cognitive and linguistic abilities in bilingual children (English – Spanish). In particular, we measured the effect of attentional control (the ability to maintain an operative goal, and goal-relevant information, in the face of distraction) and educational experience (amount of time reading) on reading ability (the ability to recognize words and discard misspelled non-words). The sample included 82 developing bilingual children from an immersion school in the United States. Participants were presented with two tasks: the Flanker task as the measure of attentional control (resistance to distractor interference) and the Lexical decision task as the measure of reading ability (processing words and discarding pseudohomophones). Performance in the Flanker task predicted performance in the lexical decision task. However, the amount of time practice reading (measured with a self-report questionnaire) did not predict performance in the lexical decision task. Lastly, performance in Spanish predicted performance in English. These findings point to a close connection between cognitive function and reading ability. Furthermore, the results support the linguistic interdependence hypothesis, as literacy skills are transferred across the two languages of developing bilingual children.