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Volume 1 Number 2, Autumn 2004, Pages 1-171   

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A Study of Cognitive Level of Bilingual Proficiency: What Makes Balanced Bilinguals?

    Kazuko Yumoto

This is an on-going study to investigate bilingual proficiency of Japanese children living abroad. The research centers on bilingual proficiency in relation to age of arrival, length of stay, and language use at home in order to find out factors leading to balanced bilinguals. The project was conducted in Vancouver, Canada in 2001. This paper reports the results of the Oral Proficiency Assessment for Bilingual Children (OBC) developed by Canadian Association for Japanese Language Education. The OBC interview tests aim to examine Japanese and English proficiencies in three dimensions: basic, communicative, and cognitive. The objectives of the paper are: 1) to present the results of L1/L2 proficiencies of Vancouver survey on balanced bilinguals as case studies; 2) to find out factors leading to cognitive/academic language proficiency; and 3) to verify Cummins' L1/L2 interdependent hypothesis and threshold hypothesis. Subjects are 17 Japanese children with the age range of 6-12 years old who study English as L2 at Canadian schools during weekdays and study L1 at the Japanese School on Saturday as heritage program. Following factors are proposed for CALP acquisition: L1 use at home, amount of reading in L1/L2, motivation for language learning, positive attitude, and socio-cultural interests.