Despite early emerging and impressive linguistic abilities, young children demonstrate ostensibly puzzling beliefs about the nature of language. In some circumstances monolingual children even express the belief that an individual’s language is more stable than her race (Kinzler & Dautel, 2012). The present research investigated bilingual children’s thinking about the relative stability of language and race. Five-six-year-old bilingual children were asked to judge whether a target child who varied in race (White or Black) and language (English or French) would grow up to be an adult who maintained the target child’s race or her language. Similar to many monolingual children, a heterogeneous group of bilingual children on average chose the language-match. Yet, French-English bilingual children were relatively more likely to choose the race-match, especially when tested in their non-dominant language. Specific experience with relevant languages, and communicating in a non-dominant language, may contribute to children’s developing metalinguistic success and their thinking about social categorization.
- bilingualism, essentialism, language, race, social cognition