Royal recognition for distinguished researcher Bialystok

Ellen Bialystok (left), distinguished research professor in psychology and visiting scientist for 2001-2003 at the Rotman Research Institute, has been named to the Royal Society of Canada. The induction ceremony will take place at the society’s awards banquet on November 24.

Each year, distinguished scholars and researchers are chosen by their peers and elected to the society on the basis of their exceptional contributions to scholarship. Bialystok’s research is on the development of symbolic skills, such as language, number and spatial cognition, in preschool and school-aged children, and she is well-known for her work examining the effect of bilingualism on such development.

Currently, she is investigating the acquisition of early literacy and the effects of childhood bilingualism on development. Some of her other research examines topics in second-language acquisition, such as the role of age of acquisition on the ability to acquire a new language.

Recipient of a Walter Gordon Fellowship in 1999, Bialystok spent a year researching language and cognitive skills of bilingual children to complete her book, entitled Bilingualism in Development: Languages, Literacy and Cognition. The prestigious Walter Gordon Fellowship is presented periodically by York University to distinguished scholars at the University in recognition of outstanding research.

In her book Bialystok took the results of the past 20 years of her study and focused on the main finding – that bilingual children are more able to solve problems containing misleading information than their monolingual peers. Her book is now used by researchers doing similar work and by upper undergraduate and graduate students as an advanced level language text, and is now being translated into Japanese and Arabic.


Bialystok is the recipient of several other awards, including, most recently, the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research, 2002; Killam Research Fellowship, 2001-2003; and Language Learning Distinguished Scholar in Residence, 2000.

Author of five books and nearly 100 refereed papers and chapters, Bialystok has been visiting professor at Oxford University, Stanford University, University of Wales, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Macquarie University.