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Abstract

A series of discoveries in the last two decades has changed the way we think about bilingualism and its implications for language and cognition. One is that both languages are always active. The parallel activation of the two languages is thought to give rise to competition that imposes demands on the bilingual to control the language not in use to achieve fluency in the target language. The second is that there are consequences of bilingualism that affect the native as well as the second language. The native language changes in response to second language use. The third is that the consequences of bilingualism are not limited to language but appear to reflect a reorganization of brain networks that hold implications for the ways in which bilinguals negotiate cognitive competition more generally. The focus of recent research on bilingualism has been to understand the relation between these discoveries and the implications they hold for language, cognition, and the brain across the lifespan.
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Current Directions in Psychological Science
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Current Directions in Psychological Science
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Current Directions in Psychological Science
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Current Directions in Psychological Science
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Current Directions in Psychological Science
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... An alternative possibility is that L2 influences representations of L1 grammar in long-term memory. Although bilingual speakers use L1 less when immersed in an L2 environment, both languages may be simultaneously activated in the bilingual mind during the use of either (Kroll, Bobb, & Hoshino, 2014;Kroll, Dussias, Bogulski & Valdes Kroff, 2012). Thus, L1 representations may be active during L2 use. ...
... Speeded grammaticality judgments allow less time for competition between L1 and L2 to resolve (Kroll et al., 2012(Kroll et al., , 2014. Additionally, they minimize or eliminate explicit deliberation about a sentence (Jiang, 2007) and reanalysis of syntactic parsing (Hopp, 2010). ...
Article
Does second-language (L2) syntactic influence on first-language (L1) reflect long-term changes to L1 syntax or occur only as a result of retrieval difficulties during time-constrained tasks? To evaluate L2 influence on L1 representation of animacy constraints (an element at the syntax–semantics interface) and word order (narrow syntax), we asked Korean–English bilingual speakers to judge sentences for grammaticality under both speeded and unspeeded conditions (Study 1) and to choose the more acceptable sentence of pairs that contained one grammatical and one ungrammatical sentence (Study 2). We found evidence for L2 influence on L1 animacy constraints in all cases and potential L2 influence on L1 word order in Study 1. These results indicate that L2 influence on L1 syntax can be observed even in conditions that reduce retrieval difficulty, implicating changes to underlying L1 representations. They also support the notion of greater susceptibility to change at the syntax–semantics interface.
... Investigating language processing behavior in US heritage speakers of Spanish therefore affords a unique opportunity to observe how the psycholinguistic processing of a dominant language can be modulated by linguistic experience in a non-dominant language, when differences in AoA for the two are minimized. This question is of great interest in the context of recent perspectives on bilingualism that place the role of linguistic experience and plasticity across the life span front and center for advancing our understanding how the cognitive system accommodates the presence of multiple languages (Baum and Titone, 2014;Kroll et al., 2014). From this standpoint, it is somewhat surprising that relatively little is known regarding language processing in heritage Spanish speakers. ...
... Intriguingly, one small study found a relationship between L2 proficiency and SPIN performance in L1 for late L2 learners: von Hapsburg and Bahng (2009) reported that among native Korean late learners of English, greater L2 English proficiency was associated with worse L1 Korean word recognition in noise. This is particularly striking in the context of the plasticityoriented perspectives highlighted above (Baum and Titone, 2014;Kroll et al., 2014). The process of acquiring and strengthening L2 representations and processing routines requires the learner to integrate new information into an already established system, a process that entails adaptation of the L1. ...
Article
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Previous research has shown that as the level of background noise increases, auditory word recognition performance drops off more rapidly for bilinguals than monolinguals. This disproportionate bilingual deficit has often been attributed to a presumed increase in cross-language activation in noise, although no studies have specifically tested for such an increase. We propose two distinct mechanisms by which background noise could cause an increase in cross-language activation: a phonetically based account and an executive function-based account. We explore the evidence for the phonetically based account by comparing cognate facilitation effects for three groups of native English listeners (monolinguals, late (L2) learners of Spanish, and heritage Spanish speakers) and four noise conditions (no noise, speech-shaped noise, English two-talker babble, and Spanish two-talker babble) during an auditory lexical decision task in English. By examining word recognition in the dominant language, the role of language control mechanisms is minimized, and by examining three different types of competing noise, the role of energetic vs. informational masking can be assessed. Contrary to predictions, we find no evidence that background noise modulates cross-language activation; cognate facilitation is constant across the four noise conditions. Instead, several indices of word recognition performance are found to correlate with aspects of linguistic experience: (1) The magnitude of the cognate facilitation effect is correlated with heritage listeners’ self-ratings of Spanish proficiency; (2) Overall noise deficits are marginally larger for heritage listeners with lower English vocabulary scores; (3) Heritage listeners’ Spanish self-ratings predict their magnitude of informational masking; (4) For all bilinguals, the degree of masking incurred in both English and Spanish two-talker babble is correlated with self-reported daily exposure to Spanish; and (5) The degree of masking incurred by Spanish babble is correlated with Spanish vocabulary knowledge. The results enrich our understanding of auditory word recognition in heritage speakers in particular and provide evidence that informational masking is most subject to modulation due to variation in linguistic experience. It remains to be seen whether cross-language activation is modulated by noise when the target language is the less dominant one.
... Research demonstrates that the linguistic system is not a static unit but rather a malleable and adaptive organization that integrates novel entries at different levels (de Bot et al., 2007;Kroll et al., 2014;Kaan et al., 2019) and the context of sentence processing provides a broad but complex ground to investigate how various linguistic representations interact in the bilingual mind. In the present study, we present a systematic review and meta-analysis study to explore the current evidence on how the bilingual experience changes the processing of sentences in the native language to unravel different patterns and the factors that underlie them. ...
Article
Full-text available
The native language changes as a result of contact with a second language, and the pattern and degree of such change depend on a variety of factors like the bilingual experience or the linguistic level. Here, we present a systematic review and meta-analysis of works that explore variations in native sentence comprehension and production by comparing monolinguals and bilinguals. Fourteen studies in the meta-analysis provided information regarding the bilingual experience and differences at the morphosyntactic level using behavioral methods. Overall, we observed that first language processing is subject to small transformations in bilinguals that occur in sentence comprehension and production. The magnitude of the changes depended on bilingual experiences, but only length of residence in an L2 setting predicted the degree of change, where shorter length of residence was associated with larger changes. Results are discussed and related to the cognitive processes that potentially cause the transformations in the first language. The present work reveals some limitations in the field that should be addressed in future studies to better understand the mechanisms behind language attrition.
... Importantly, bilingualism might play a unique role among the known CR proxies due to our knowledge of the route through which it affects aging, namely its putative beneficial role on executive functioning. Indeed, parallel activation of co-present linguistic systems has been extensively observed in the bilingual brain (e.g., Kroll et al., 2014). This simultaneous activation of competing information leads to a conflict, which must be successfully and rapidly resolved by the bilingual speaker. ...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the contribution of bilingual experience to the development of cognitive reserve (CR) when compared with other, traditionally more researched, CR proxies, in a sample of cognitively healthy senior (60 +) bilingual speakers. Participants performed in an online study where, in addition to a wide inventory of factors known to promote CR, we assessed several factors related to their second language (L2) use. In addition, participants’ inhibitory executive control was measured via the Flanker Task. We used Structural Equation Modeling to derive a latent composite measure of CR informed by traditional CR proxies (i.e., occupational complexity, marital status, current and retrospective socio-economic status, physical exercise, perceived positive support, maximal educational attainment, frequency of leisure activities and extent of social network). We examined whether bilingualism may act as a mediator of the effects of such proxies on cognitive performance therefore assessing the unique contribution of dual language use to CR. First, our analyses revealed facilitatory effects of both L2 age of acquisition and L2 proficiency on the executive performance. Second, our analyses confirmed the moderating role of bilingual experience on the relationship between other factors known to promote CR and cognitive integrity, revealing a strong contribution by bilingualism to CR development. Our findings provide further support to the notion that bilingualism plays an important role in mitigating cognitive decline and promoting successful aging.
... Why should bilingualism be associated with enhanced cognitive control? A large body of psycholinguistic research has shown that both languages are always active in the bilingual brain, despite the absence of any conscious awareness of the non-used language (Costa et al., 1999;Francis, 1999;Kroll et al., 2014;Marian & Spivey, 2003;Wu & Thierry, 2010). Because bilinguals rarely commit intrusion errors from the unwanted language, inhibitory control seemed to be an obvious mechanism for excluding the non-target language from ongoing processing (Liu et al., 2016;Martin-Rhee & Bialystok, 2008;Misra et al., 2012;Philipp & Koch, 2009). ...
Article
It has been claimed that bilingual experience leads to an enhancement of cognitive control across the lifespan, a claim that has been investigated by comparing monolingual and bilingual groups performing standard executive function (EF) tasks. The results of these studies have been inconsistent, however, leading to controversy over the essential assumptions underlying the research program, namely, whether bilingualism produces cognitive change. We argue that the source of the inconsistency is not in the evidence but rather in the framework that has typically been used to motivate the research and interpret the results. We examine the componential view of EF with its central role for inhibition and argue that it provides a poor fit to both bilingual experience and the results of these studies. As an alternative, we propose a more holistic account based on attentional control that overrides the processes in the componential model of EF and applies to a wider range of tasks. The key element in our account is that behavioral differences between monolingual and bilingual individuals reflect differences in the efficiency and deployment of attentional control between the two language groups. In support of this point we show how attentional control provides a more satisfactory account for a range of findings that cannot reasonably be attributed to inhibition. We also suggest that group differences will emerge only when the attentional demands of a task exceed the control abilities of one of the groups, regardless of the EF components involved. We then review literature from across the lifespan to evaluate the extent to which this account is consistent with existing evidence, and conclude with some suggestions on how the field may be advanced by new lines of empirical enquiry.
... An important finding in bilingual research is that bilinguals maintain both of their languages active even in completely unilingual settings (for reviews see Kroll & Bialystok, 2013;Kroll et al., 2014Kroll et al., , 2018. Language coactivation has been studied with unique words such as cognates. ...
Article
Aims and Objectives The cognate facilitation effect (CFE) is a robust effect in language production and visual word comprehension, but evidence for CFE during auditory comprehension is still scarce. This study aimed to explore the CFE during auditory comprehension of a second language (L2) while manipulating proficiency in the L2 and cognate type. These two variables are known to influence the CFE. Methodology Low and highly proficient Spanish–English bilinguals listened to individual words in their L2, English, that shared high, low, and no phonological overlap (PO) with their native language Spanish. We designed a visual world paradigm task that consisted of selecting an image shown as a spoken word unfolded in time while eye movements were recorded. Data and Analysis Response times revealed a clear CFE in low proficiency bilinguals, while this effect was absent in highly proficient bilinguals. The eye-tracking (ET) data showed late coactivation of low-PO words and, surprisingly, no coactivation of high-PO words in low proficiency bilinguals. Highly proficient bilinguals showed no clear pattern of language coactivation in the ET data. The English monolingual control group showed no effects during the critical time window. Conclusions These results are interpreted within the framework of L2 processing models. At low levels of proficiency, the PO between translations facilitates access to meaning. On the other hand, highly proficient bilinguals no longer benefit from the PO between translations, at least for concrete and simple nouns. Originality The findings demonstrate a clear CFE in auditory comprehension. Proficiency in L2 and PO modulated the effect, as shown in both the response time and in the ET data, respectively. Implications These findings suggest that at low levels of L2 proficiency, learners more easily access the conceptual information if the auditory input is similar to their native language. Nevertheless, as proficiency increases, this facilitation disappears.
... It should be said that these "boundary objects" understood as an interdisciplinary language should serve not only two essential purposes (Sternberg, 1999) for communication (receiving, decoding, and comprehending inputs from external sources) and expressing and producing encoded language outputs (for external sources) but beyond these functions acquiring and using an L2 may enable bilinguals or those who has acquired the said L2 to develop special expertise that extends beyond language into cognition, shapes the brain networks that support cognitive control, and provides cognitive resources (Kroll, Bobb and Hoshino, 2014) [italics done by authors]. Thus, the acquired L2 can be considered as a "catalyst" for the additional development of the cognitive abilities of students / teachers, making them more successful in learning / teaching, as well as in applying / developing new disciplinary knowledge. ...
Book
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The book contents scientific research and professional observations in the field of contemporary foreign language teaching, held on the Round Table "Business Lingua - Relevant problems of Foreign Language Teaching and Multilingualism", Svishtov, Bulgaria. 15th of October, 2021
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Skilled reading is important in daily life. While the understanding of the neurofunctional organization of this uniquely human skill has advanced significantly, it does not take into consideration the common bilingual experiences around the world. To examine the role of early bilingualism on the neural substrates supporting English word processing, we compared brain activity, as well as functional connectivity, in Spanish-English early bilingual adults (N = 25) and English monolingual adults (N = 33) during single-word processing. Activation analysis revealed no significant differences between the two groups. A seed-to-voxel analysis using eight a priori selected seed-regions (placed in regions known to be involved in reading) revealed relatively stronger functional connectivity in bilinguals between two sets of regions: left superior temporal gyrus seed positively with left lingual gyrus and left middle frontal gyrus seed negatively with left anterior cingulate cortex. Together these results suggest that an early Spanish-English bilingual experience does not modulate local brain activity for English word reading. It does, however, have some influence on the functional intercommunication between brain regions during reading, specifically in two regions associated with reading, which are functionally connected to those inside and outside of the reading network. We conclude that brain regions involved in processing English words are not that different in Spanish-English early bilingual adults relative to monolingual adult users of English.
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The developmental trajectory of monolinguals has often been used as the benchmark against which the progress of all language learners is assessed and understood, and the abilities of monolinguals are used to define the native-like competence that is widely cited as the ultimate goal for all language learners. Moreover, language learning standards and curricula to guide language teaching and learning in school, as well as frameworks and strategies for assessing language learner outcomes in school, have all been shaped in significant ways by a monolingual bias. In this article, I critically examine assumptions underlying the monolingual bias and review findings from research on preschool and early-school-age learners who acquire language under diverse circumstances. Explanations that go beyond the monolingual bias are proposed for findings of differences between children who learn language under diverse circumstances and monolingual children. I argue that current research supports the view that there are alternative pathways to becoming language competent.
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Przedmiotem artykułu jest opis programu semestralnych zajęć „Wprowadzenie do wielojęzyczności”.Tekst zawiera wyszczególnienie efektów uczenia w zakresie wiedzy,umiejętności i kompetencji, główne treści kształcenia oraz literaturę przedmiotu. Celemproponowanych zajęć jest usystematyzowanie i przekazanie studentom specjalizacji glottodydaktycznejwiedzy logopedycznej, psycholingwistycznej, neurobiologicznej i socjologicznejna temat rozwoju mowy dziecka ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem rozwoju w środowiskuwielojęzycznym oraz wielojęzyczności u dorosłych. Treści kształcenia zawierają tematyo typach wielojęzyczności, specyfice wielojęzycznego rozwoju mowy dziecka, technikachwspomagania rozwoju mowy w środowisku wielojęzycznym, zagrożeniach i trudnościachw rozwoju wielojęzyczności równoczesnej oraz wielojęzyczności u dorosłych.
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Normal aging is an inevitable race between increasing knowledge and decreasing cognitive capacity. Crucial to understanding and promoting successful aging is determining which of these factors dominates for particular neurocognitive functions. Here, we focus on the human capacity for language, for which healthy older adults are simultaneously advantaged and disadvantaged. In recent years, a more hopeful view of cognitive aging has emerged from work suggesting that age-related declines in executive control functions are buffered by life-long bilingualism. In this paper, we selectively review what is currently known and unknown about bilingualism, executive control, and aging. Our ultimate goal is to advance the views that these issues should be reframed as a specific instance of neuroplasticity more generally and, in particular, that researchers should embrace the individual variability among bilinguals by adopting experimental and statistical approaches that respect the complexity of the questions addressed. In what follows, we set out the theoretical assumptions and empirical support of the bilingual advantages perspective, review what we know about language, cognitive control, and aging generally, and then highlight several of the relatively few studies that have investigated bilingual language processing in older adults, either on their own or in comparison with monolingual older adults. We conclude with several recommendations for how the field ought to proceed to achieve a more multifactorial view of bilingualism that emphasizes the notion of neuroplasticity over that of simple bilingual versus monolingual group comparisons.
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This study investigated the role of domain-general inhibitory control in trilingual speech production. Taking an individual differences approach, we examined the relationship between performance on a non-linguistic measure of inhibitory control (the Simon task) and a multilingual language switching task for a group of fifty-six native English (L1) speakers learning French (L2) and Spanish (L3). Better inhibitory control was related to reduced switch costs, but only when switching into or out of the more dominant L1, where inhibitory control has been theorized to be most important (Green, 1998). The results provide evidence of a direct link between inhibitory control abilities and language switching capabilities, and suggest constraints on the conditions under which a domain-general inhibitory control mechanism supports language switching.
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Previous findings on adult second-language (L2) learners showed systematic phonetic changes in their production of the native language (L1) starting in the first weeks of L2 learning [Chang, C. B. (2012). Rapid and multifaceted effects of second-language learning on first-language speech production. Journal of Phonetics, 40, 249–268]. This “phonetic drift” of L1 production in novice L2 learners was consistent with reports of phonetic drift in advanced L2 learners; however, the fact that novice learners showed relatively pronounced drift was unexpected. To explore the hypothesis that this pattern is due to a novelty effect boosting the encoding and retrieval of elementary L2 experience, the current study compared the inexperienced learners analyzed previously (learners with no prior knowledge of the L2) to experienced learners enrolled in the same language program. In accordance with the hypothesis, experienced learners manifested less phonetic drift in their production of L1 stops and vowels than inexperienced learners, suggesting that progressive familiarization with an L2 leads to reduced phonetic drift at later stages of L2 experience. These findings contradict the assumption that L2 influence on the L1 is weakest at early stages of L2 learning and argue in favor of viewing the L1 and L2 both as dynamic systems undergoing continuous change.
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Psycholinguistics has traditionally focused on language processing in monolingual speakers. In the past two decades, there has been a dramatic increase of research on bilingual speakers, recognizing that bilingualism is not an unusual or problematic circumstance but one that characterizes more language speakers in the world than monolingualism. Most critically, cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have come to see that understanding the way that bilinguals negotiate the presence of two languages in the mind and brain may reveal processes that are otherwise obscured in monolingual speakers. In this chapter, we review the new research on language processing in bilinguals. Our starting point is the observation that both languages are active when bilinguals intend to use one language alone. The parallel activation of the two languages creates competition across the two languages, which renders the bilingual a mental juggler. Surprisingly, the resolution of cross-language competition imposes relatively few processing costs to bilinguals because they appear to develop a high level of cognitive control that permits them to switch between the two languages and, at the same time, effectively select the intended language with few errors. The expertise that bilinguals develop in juggling the two languages has consequences for language processing, because both the native and second languages change as bilingual skill is acquired, and also for domain general cognitive processes, with the result that executive function is enhanced in bilinguals relative to monolinguals. We suggest that recent research on language and cognitive processing in bilinguals requires important revisions to models of language processing based on monolingual speakers alone. In this way, bilingualism is not only an interesting phenomenon in its own right, but an important tool for cognitive and language scientists.
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One hundred and seventy-five children who were 6-years old were assigned to one of four groups that differed in socioeconomic status (SES; working class or middle class) and language background (monolingual or bilingual). The children completed tests of nonverbal intelligence, language tests assessing receptive vocabulary and attention based on picture naming, and two tests of executive functioning. All children performed equivalently on the basic intelligence tests, but performance on the language and executive functioning tasks was influenced by both SES and bilingualism. Middle-class children outperformed working-class children on all measures, and bilingual children obtained lower scores than monolingual children on language tests but higher scores than monolingual children on the executive functioning tasks. There were no interactions with either group factors or task factors. Thus, each of SES and bilingualism contribute significantly and independently to children's development irrespective of the child's level on the other factor.
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Contemporary research on bilingualism has been framed by two major discoveries. In the realm of language processing, studies of comprehension and production show that bilinguals activate information about both languages when using one language alone. Parallel activation of the two languages has been demonstrated for highly proficient bilinguals as well as second language learners and appears to be present even when distinct properties of the languages themselves might be sufficient to bias attention towards the language in use. In the realm of cognitive processing, studies of executive function have demonstrated a bilingual advantage, with bilinguals outperforming their monolingual counterparts on tasks that require ignoring irrelevant information, task switching, and resolving conflict. Our claim is that these outcomes are related and have the overall effect of changing the way that both cognitive and linguistic processing are carried out for bilinguals. In this article we consider each of these domains of bilingual performance and consider the kinds of evidence needed to support this view. We argue that the tendency to consider bilingualism as a unitary phenomenon explained in terms of simple component processes has created a set of apparent controversies that masks the richness of the central finding in this work: the adult mind and brain are open to experience in ways that create profound consequences for both language and cognition.
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Behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) measures are reported for a study in which relatively proficient Chinese-English bilinguals named identical pictures in each of their two languages. Production occurred only in Chinese (the first language, L1) or only in English (the second language, L2) in a given block with the order counterbalanced across participants. The repetition of pictures across blocks was expected to produce facilitation in the form of faster responses and more positive ERPs. However, we hypothesized that if both languages are activated when naming one language alone, there might be evidence of inhibition of the stronger L1 to enable naming in the weaker L2. Behavioral data revealed the dominance of Chinese relative to English, with overall faster and more accurate naming performance in L1 than L2. However, reaction times for naming in L1 after naming in L2 showed no repetition advantage and the ERP data showed greater negativity when pictures were named in L1 following L2. This greater negativity for repeated items suggests the presence of inhibition rather than facilitation alone. Critically, the asymmetric negativity associated with the L1 when it followed the L2 endured beyond the immediate switch of language, implying long-lasting inhibition of the L1. In contrast, when L2 naming followed L1, both behavioral and ERP evidence produced a facilitatory pattern, consistent with repetition priming. Taken together, the results support a model of bilingual lexical production in which candidates in both languages compete for selection, with inhibition of the more dominant L1 when planning speech in the less dominant L2. We discuss the implications for modeling the scope and time course of inhibitory processes.