Executive Control, Working Memory and Literacy Skills in Bilingual Children 

Who are we?

We are a team of researchers funded by The Leverhulme Trust investigating cognitive-linguistic processing in Hindi/Urdu-English speaking children across the United Kingdom. Working on the team that includes Dr Meesha Warmington, Professor Graham Hitch, Dr Selma Babayigit, Ms Annie Clarke and Ms Swathi Kandru-Pothineni.

The Project

In the UK:

  • The number of EAL children in England in 2012 was 577,555 which represents 17.5% of primary pupils. This number continues to increase by approximately 1% per annum

  • Over 300 languages are spoken in the homes of these children

  • Increasing linguistic diversity poses potential challenges to educators and educational practice

  • Reports reveal the performance gap between monolingual and EAL children is widening





Research has found that EAL children show an advantage when compared to monolingual children in executive skills. However, it is not clear as to whether this benefit transfers to related language skills (i.e. vocabulary and reading comprehension).

Our Objectives were to:

  • Understand the cognitive, reading and vocabulary profile of Hindi/Urdu–English speaking children

  • Understand how executive skills influence the development of vocabulary and reading skills in these children

Over 200 children from across England took part in our research.


What do our results tell us?

Despite relative weakness in English proficiency, we found that EAL children in the UK demonstrated significant advantages in working memory and vocabulary acquisition when compared to their monolingual English speaking peers. This highlights that bilingual children bring unique strengths to the learning context that can be capitalised on.



Meet the Researchers

Click on the names below to find out more about the team 

Dr Meesha Warmington

Professor Graham Hitch

Dr Selma Babayigit

Ms Swathi Kandru

Ms Annie Clarke

Contact Details



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