Bilingualism and Hispanic American Intelligence Test Scores, pp.181-200
Authors: Philip G. Gasquoine, Aracely Cavazos, Juan Cantu, and Amy L. Weimer University of Texas – Pan American
Abstract: Hispanic Americans as a group score 0.5SD below White Americans on intelligence test measures (administered in English) that emphasize language processing, but score similarly when visual-perceptual/visual-motor processing is required. The reason for this language decrement is unknown. This chapter considers the possible contribution of bilingualism to this effect, as studies linking bilingualism and cognition (conducted with multiple ethnic groupings) have consistently shown a bilingual disadvantage compared to monolinguals on language processing tasks. Two data sets (older children and adults) of bilingual Hispanic American performance on various intelligence test measures administered in Spanish and English showed evidence of a visual-perceptual/visual-motor over language processing advantage of about 1SD. The size of the visual-perceptual/visual-motor over language advantage was similar in both languages suggesting it is bilingualism-related and not due to low English language proficiency. Bilingualism appears to be a potentially important factor in the Hispanic American language processing decrement seen on intelligence tests, although no direct study on the effect of this variable has yet been conducted.