Are refugee bilingual children disadvantaged in their cognitive and linguistic abilities?

Özlem Jeter, Hugh Rabagliati, Duygu Özge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

The Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, and caused has more than five million people to seek refuge outside the country. In the more than eight years since the war started, a large population of children have thus grown up as refugees, particularly in Turkey, which has absorbed the large majority of displaced Syrian families. However, very little is known about the cognitive and language development of these children. For instance, it is unclear how their traumatic displacement experiences might impact their development and how their language abilities would develop. Our focus group consists of individuals who were forced to leave their countries because of the life-threatening events they experienced. Nevertheless, they must learn to make their way in Turkish society, learning a new language, a new culture, and developing mature cognitive and social skills. For many displaced children, it is imperative to acquire a new community language – i.e., Turkish – but it is unclear what environment is optimal to encourage this. For instance, does immersive education in a Turkish language school promote strong Turkish language development or does it hinder children’s cognitive and social development, since they may fail to engage in class or interact with their peers, leading to worse outcomes?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 45th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development
EditorsDanielle Dionne, Lee-Ann Vidal Covas
Place of PublicationSomerville, MA
PublisherCascadilla Press
ISBN (Print)9781574730678
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of the annual Boston University Conference on Language Development
PublisherCascadilla Press
ISSN (Electronic)1080-692X


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