This volume is based primarily on a conference on childhood bilingualism held at New York University on June 25 and 26, 1982. The idea for the conference grew out of a series of discussions between two of the editors, Peter Homel and Michael Palij, who had substantial interests in exploring the nature of bilingual cognition and the effect of bilingualism on psychological development. We, the editors, were struck by the wealth of research but were appalled by the lack of communication between researchers in "mainstream" developmental psychology-those looking at language development in monolingual children -- and researchers looking at similar developmental processes in bilingual children. We thought it would be of great interest and practical value to bring together researchers from both areas in an attempt to stimulate dialogue and interaction between the two groups.
The first step toward holding the conference was taken when Paul Dores, of SUNY, Stony Brook, gave us a copy of a request for proposals for the Society for Research in Child Development's ( SRCD) series of study groups and summer institutes. Our initial proposal to SRCD for funding for a summer study group focused on four areas of child development and how bilingualism might affect each one: language acquisition, cognitive functioning, social cognition and communication, and personality and emotional development. SRCD approved the proposal, adding the issue of bidialectism and its relationship to bilingualism as another area of focus.
The volume contains most of the presentations made at the conference and follows, with minor changes, the general organization of the conference. During each session, two "bilingual" researchers (i.e., doing research in the bilingualism) presented a general review of the issues within a topic area and gave