The Psychology of Bilingualism: A Conversation with Ellen Bialystok

Front Cover
Open Agenda Publishing, Oct 1, 2020 - Psychology

This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Ellen Bialystok, Professor of Psychology at York University. Ellen Bialystok is a world-leading expert on the effects of bilingualism on cognitive processes across our lifespan. This conversation examines how she discovered differences in the development of essential cognitive and language abilities for bilingual children, the use of different brain networks by monolingual and bilingual young adults performing simple conflict tasks, and the postponement of symptoms of dementia in bilingual older adults, and many more fascinating aspects of bilingualism. 

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, The Plastic Revolution, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

I. Focusing on Bilingualism - From pedagogy to battling stereotypes

II. Becoming Scientific - Inklings of plasticity

III. Out of the Minds of Babes - Focusing attention from the earliest moments

IV. Differences and Definitions - Statistically significant results, and defining bilingualism

V. Multitasking and Focusing - Real-world applications of bilingualism's advantages

VI. In the Brain - What’s happening inside

VII. The Art of Measurement - The power of fMRI

VIII. Bilingualism, Extended - The challenge of isolating relevant factors

IX. Bilingualism and Dementia - Surprising results and current puzzles

X. Public Policy Implications - The societal benefits of bilingualism

XI. Open Questions and Speculations - Ongoing mysteries and the problem with projections

About Ideas Roadshow Conversations Series 

This book is part of an expanding series of 100+ Ideas Roadshow conversations, each one presenting a wealth of candid insights from a leading expert through a focused yet informal setting to give non-specialists a uniquely accessible window into frontline research and scholarship that wouldn't otherwise be encountered through standard lectures and textbooks.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages


A Note on the Text
The Conversation
Focusing on Bilingualism
Becoming Scientific
Out of the Minds of Babes
Differences and Definitions
Multitasking and Focusing
In The Brain
The Art of Measurement
Bilingualism Extended
Bilingualism and Dementia
Public Policy Implications
Open Questions and Speculations

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2020)

Howard Burton, the founder and creator of Ideas Roadshow and Ideas on Film, holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy. He was the Founding Executive Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) from 1999-2007. During his time at PI, he also developed an extensive outreach programme for teachers, students and the general public. His experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of the institute were described in the book First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, featuring a foreword by renowned theoretical physicist Roger Penrose.

Ideas Roadshow is an award-winning initiative, recipient of the London Book Fair International Excellence Award in 2018. Howard has hosted and filmed in-depth conversations with more than 100 of the world’s brightest thinkers, including 3 Nobel Laureates, across the arts, sciences, sports and games.